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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - February 8, 2016

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

Crystal Cruises Announces Plans to Restore SS United States to a Modern Cruise Ship
Together with the SS United States Conservancy, Crystal today announced it will save “America’s Flagship,” the SS United States, and embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service. During the announcement, made at a press conference at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City, Crystal also committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking a technical feasibility study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

Crystal Cruises Announces Plans to Restore SS United States to a Modern Cruise Ship“The prospect of revitalizing the SS United States and reestablishing her as ‘America’s Flagship’ once again is a thrilling one. It will be a very challenging undertaking, but we are determined to apply the dedication and innovation that has always been the ship’s hallmark,” says Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. “We are honored to work with the SS United States Conservancy and government agencies in exploring the technical feasibility study so we can ultimately embark on the journey of transforming her into a sophisticated luxury cruise liner for the modern era.”

“Crystal’s ambitious vision for the SS United States will ensure our nation’s flagship is once again a global ambassador for the highest standards of American innovation, quality and design,” said Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs. We are thrilled that the SS United States is now poised to make a triumphant return to sea and that the ship’s historical legacy will continue to intrigue and inspire a new generation.”

In order to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance, the SS United States will have to be extensively re-built to meet over 60 years of new maritime rules and shipbuilding practices. The modern United States by Crystal Cruises will be transformed into an 800-guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxurious suites measuring about 350 square feet with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s storied history. Features of the original SS United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world.

Adds Rodriguez: “It is truly a privilege for the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line to be entrusted with the opportunity of restoring a ship that served as a symbol of patriotism and maritime supremacy and bring her into the modern day, while also giving guests a taste of a bygone era of luxury travel.”

Crystal will be examining exciting new itineraries for the 60,000-gross-ton United States by Crystal Cruises including not only the traditional transatlantic voyages from New York City, but cruises from key U.S. ports as well as international voyages around the globe which are a signature offering of Crystal and part of the line’s “World Cruise.”

The epitome of American post-war innovation and design, the SS United States was launched in 1952 and captured the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage – a record to this day that still stands. She remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. Before her retirement in 1969, the SS United States was the most glamorous and elegant ship in the world, having transported four U.S. presidents, international royalty, many of Hollywood’s “golden era” celebrities, as well as a million passengers. While the ship captivated travelers with its features and elegance, the ship’s origin was equally intriguing. She was designed as part of a top-secret Pentagon program during the Cold War, which stipulated it could be quickly converted from a luxury liner into a naval troopship in the event of a war, carrying 15,000 troops with a 240,000 shaft horsepower propulsion plant capable of traveling 10,000 nautical miles – almost half way around the globe – without refueling.

In October 2015, the SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors announced that the persistent challenge of covering the vessel’s monthly expenses had compelled them to engage a ship broker to explore the potential sale of the ship to be responsibly recycled. This news resulted in an outpouring of public support worldwide and led to the Conservancy raising additional funds which enabled the organization to continue its preservation efforts and pursue negotiations with potential investors and partners.

“The Conservancy could never have reached this momentous milestone without the lifeline provided by our supporters from across the country and around the world. Thousands responded to our SOS last October and they refused to give up the fight for America’s Flagship,” continued Gibbs.

To facilitate the complex technical feasibility study and to ensure a smooth execution of the project, Crystal has appointed retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan to build and lead a team with a wide range of cruise line technical, legal and regulatory expertise. With 36 years of active service, Admiral Sullivan has extensive experience in ship operations as a Commanding Officer of numerous Coast Guard cutters, and over the years has engaged in high level of interaction with a myriad of U.S. government agencies and international regulatory entities.

“Tim’s integrity and leadership will help ensure the feasibility study is conducted with appropriately wide consultation, and rigorous adherence to both safety and environmental awareness,” said Rodriguez.

The Conservancy will continue to expand its curatorial and archival collections as it advances its mission of educating the public about the SS United States’ history. The organization will work with Crystal to establish shipboard displays and other educational programs. Planning is also underway for a land-based museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s Flagship along with broader design, innovation, and discovery themes. The museum will feature a wide range of original artifacts and historic components from the ship’s heyday.

Princess Debuts New Livery Design on Majestic Princess
Princess Cruises announced today, on Chinese New Year, that Majestic Princess, the first cruise ship built and designed specifically for the China market will also be the first ship in the fleet to debut an elegant new livery design featuring the company's iconic logo. The new livery design will roll out fleetwide over the next few years.

Princess Debuts New Livery Design on Majestic PrincessOne of the most recognized brand logos in cruising; the design symbolizes the smooth and flowing gracefulness of ocean waves and represents the excitement and adventure of discovering the best the world has to offer on a Princess cruise vacation. The modern, sophisticated-look is designed to reinforce the premium experience of Princess Cruises, recognized around the world as a destination leader.

"For nearly half a century our Princess logo has represented the adventure of cruise travel around the globe," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Now our ships sail to more than 360 ports of call worldwide and will be instantly recognized from afar. As the very first cruise ship built for China, we take great pride that Majestic Princess is our first ship to proudly display our new livery design."

Also today, Majestic Princess reached a significant construction milestone when the Princess Cruises vessel "floated out" in its building dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The occasion was marked by a traditional ceremony as the ship met ocean water for the first time.

Following the Italian shipyard's custom, the float out of a ship begins when a "madrina," or godmother, cuts the cord that signals the flow of sea water into the ship's building dock. Executive Vice President of Fleet Operations Keith Taylor and recently appointed Majestic Princess Captain Dino Sagani represented Princess Cruises at the ceremony. Captain Sagani's mother, Graziella Sagani, served as the ship's "madrina."

Majestic Princess will offer many of the same special features as Royal Princess and Regal Princess, which have been so well-received. These include a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; an over-the-ocean SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; and a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light.

As the first cruise ship built and designed specifically for the China market, Majestic Princess will also feature a number of new venues and experiences created for that market, the details of which will be revealed in the coming months.

Majestic Princess will home-port in Shanghai and carry 3,560 guests.

For Chocolate Lovers on Cruises, Every Day is Valentine's Day
Cruise passengers are big lovers of chocolate. The proof is in the pudding – and the chocolate cake, and the chocolate soufflés, and the chocolate truffles.

While you're shopping for that perfect box of chocolate for your Valentine consider, for instance, that Carnival Cruise Line alone buys more than 1.3 million pounds of chocolate each year. A half million of those pounds go into making the passenger-favorite Warm Chocolate Melting Cake – some 4 million of the cakes consumed annually in the main dining rooms of the line's two dozen ships.

For Valentine's Day, Carnival Cruise Line chefs will make some 60,000 chocolate-covered strawberries, along with love-themed desserts.

For Chocolate Lovers on Cruises, Every Day is Valentine's DayWhile no exact statistic is available, it is fair to say that millions of pounds of chocolate are consumed at sea each year on cruise ships. So why do cruising and chocolate go together?

"Chocolate and a lot of things go together," said French-trained Master Chocolatier Norman Love, who consults on all things chocolate with Princess Cruises. "On a cruise, people are on vacation and enjoying themselves. There's also a romantic side to cruising and a romantic side to chocolate as well. Cruising and chocolate are made for each other."

The chocolate on Princess' 18 ships, whose passengers consume more than a million pounds annually, comes from cacao-bean growing countries around the world. As with wine, great fruit produces great product, with sunlight, soil and elevation factors in creating distinct chocolate flavors, Love said.

The chocolate goes into creations including those highlighted in Princess Cruises' 24-hour "Chocolate Journeys" program (www.chocolatejourneys.com) with Love.

You can sample his 15 extravagant desserts at dinner, bites with afternoon tea, chocolate pastries at breakfast and chocolate cookies while watching Movies Under the Stars. Or get more adventurous and have anti-oxidant chocolate smeared on your body as part of a hydrating treatment at the Lotus Spa. You can even sip loaded chocolate creations in ship bars.

"Chocolate makes people happy," Love said. "It's a wonderful, universal thing that Mother Nature creates."

Americans are consuming more chocolate than ever before, Love added, whether for health benefits, with an aphrodisiac purpose in mind or just because it's so good. "It's chocolate's time right now. Chocolate is really hot," Love said.

A recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research for Princess Cruises showed more than half of U.S. adults admit to being a chocolate addict. The survey also showed 70 percent of women would choose chocolate over sex.

Holland America Line showcases high-end Belgian chocolate in cakes, muffins, custards, sauces and cookies – and more extravagant creations by world-renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres, such as his Chocolate Coconut Napoleon and Baked Chocolate Soup.

A passenger favorite is the Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake at the Pinnacle Grill. You'll also find Dutch hot chocolate served on Holland America Line ships on cool days when you're warming up after seeing, for instance, the stunning sight of a glacier thunderously calving into the sea in Alaska.

American cruisers aren't the only ones obsessed with chocolate.

In Australia, passengers on the five P&O Cruises Australia ships go for sweet treats even at breakfast, the ships baking a half million chocolate croissants each year.

The galleys on British P&O Cruises and sister line Cunard stock chocolate in all sorts of forms including sticks for baking, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, chocolate pastels, cocoa nibs and fudge topping. And then, of course, there are treats placed on your pillow at night – the two cruise lines will distribute more than 9.5 million wrapped pillow chocolates by British purveyor Whitakers Chocolates this year.

Other brands represented on the eight P&O ships and three Cunard ocean liners include Belgian chocolatier Callebaut and French premium brand Valhrona. To decorate treats, the lines will order up more than 2,700 pounds of chocolate sprinkles (also known as vermicelli) this year.

P&O in January introduced a bigger and better all-chocolate buffet, available once each cruise, featuring flowing chocolate fountains, bread and butter pudding, tarts, pyramids, lollipops, éclairs and other creations. P&O passengers can also try their hand at chocolate making with a new truffle master class, take-home recipes included.

"You should never have a menu without chocolate," said Kalman Bauer, development chef for P&O, noting chocolate fondant and chocolate soufflés are particularly popular guest choices. "When you have 2,600 people onboard a ship, about 75 percent will go with chocolate at least once a day."

NCL Announces Ground-Breaking European Summer 2017 Itineraries
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced its ground-breaking summer 2017 deployment for Europe that, for the first time in company history, features five ships sailing in European waters in the summer season. Highlights of the new itineraries include cruises to the Baltic Capitals on Norwegian Getaway from Copenhagen and a first ever complete season from Hamburg on Norwegian Jade, with embarkation for those cruises also available in the UK and Amsterdam. In addition to the European sailings, Norwegian also revealed details on Norwegian Escape’s 2017 summer cruises to the Caribbean from Miami.

Norwegian will bring Norwegian Getaway, currently the second newest ship in the fleet, back to Europe for the first time since its delivery in 2014Norwegian will bring Norwegian Getaway, currently the second newest ship in the fleet, back to Europe for the first time since its delivery in 2014, giving guests the opportunity to experience the ultimate in freedom and flexibility on eight- or nine-night Baltic Capitals cruises from Copenhagen. This spectacular itinerary will allow guests to explore UNESCO World Heritage sites, take in the picturesque Baltic countryside and experience the unique history, cultures and architecture of these famed European cities. The itinerary includes calls in Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; along with an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Marking the first time that Norwegian will homeport a ship in Hamburg, Germany, Norwegian Jade -- one of the company’s four Jewel-Class vessels -- will feature brand new cruises from Hamburg in 2017. Following an extensive dry dock in spring 2017, she will arrive essentially a new ship featuring Norwegian’s new standard of excellence the Norwegian Edge™ on May 14, 2017. Until October 9, 2017, guests can embark from Hamburg on a series of seven- and nine-day Western Europe cruises; nine- and ten-day Norwegian Fjords cruises; 12-day Norway & North Cape sailings; as well as a 14-day Norway, Iceland & UK cruise.

Norwegian will return to England for the first time since 2010 during summer 2017, as Norwegian Jade will call on Southampton during her cruises from Hamburg. From May 12 – June 20 and August 7 – October 16, 2017, guests can choose to embark from Southampton for either seven- and nine-day Western Europe cruises or nine- and ten-day Norwegian Fjords cruises. Guests can also choose to embark from Amsterdam, The Netherlands on select dates for seven-day Western Europe cruises, providing even more flexibility for guests looking to explore Europe pre- or post-cruise.

“With these exciting new summer European itineraries, we are offering our guests a wider variety of adventurous itineraries that span the continent, while also bringing one of our newest and most innovative ships to Europe”, said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Three further ships will sail European waters in 2017, including the recently refurbished Norwegian Epic with her popular seven-night Western Mediterranean itinerary, where guests can choose to depart from Barcelona, Civitavecchia (Rome) or Marseille; Norwegian Spirit sailing alternating 10- and 11-night Grand Mediterranean cruises between Barcelona and Venice; and Norwegian Star, which after her return from Australia, will spend the summer cruising from Venice to the Greek Isles as well as the Adriatic, Greece & Turkey.

Norwegian Escape, Norwegian’s newest ship launched last October, will spend summer 2017 sailing alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises year-round from Miami, starting on May6, 2017. The Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes stops in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas, whereas the Western Caribbean cruises visit Roatán, Honduras; Norwegian’s private destination Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico.

Liberty of the Seas Arrives In Galveston After Refit
Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas arrived to her homeport of Galveston, Texas today after an extensive month-long dry dock.

Norwegian will bring Norwegian Getaway, currently the second newest ship in the fleet, back to Europe for the first time since its delivery in 2014The bow-to-stern makeover introduced a slew of Royal Caribbean firsts such as a collection of waterslides called the Perfect Storm including the first ever boomerang style slide at sea, Tidal Wave. New as well is Splashaway Bay, an aqua park featuring an interactive kid’s play area with water cannons, geysers and much more.

In addition, the ship now offers an expanded lineup of tantalizing food options, including modern Mexican cuisine at Sabor; Giovanni’s Table, an Italian trattoria featuring Italian classics served family style as well as the R Bar, featuring a sophisticated 1960s vibe, complete with iconic decor and signature cocktails mixed by a savvy and personable mixologist.

Liberty of the Seas will sail seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries every Sunday from Galveston starting from November 2015 , visiting exciting warm weather getaways in the Caribbean including: Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico; and Roatan, Honduras.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 41.92 - 14.40%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 68.02 - 19.52%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.70 + 1.89%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 38.2 - 18.82%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which were the first cruise/passenger ships to have an observation lounge fitted into the smokestack?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When the Seabourn Spirit was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia several years ago, it used an innovative technology to help repel the pirates. What was the technology called and how does it work?

Answer - Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD) it operates by focusing sound or voice in a specific direction. It can be used to issue a verbal warning that can be followed up by a sound that is meant to deter or prevent persons from approaching the vessal or vehicle. It is manufactured by American Technology Corporation.
courtesy of Kevin Tapee


Cruise News - February 1, 2016

SS United States Redevelopment Plan to be Announced
Captain Dino Sagani has been named master of its next new ship, Majestic PrincessAccording to the SS United States Conservancy, the group that currently owns the SS United States, the Conservancy is planning to make on announcement on February 4 about the future of the SS United States.

In a statement, the group said that “After years of working to rescue and revitalize America's Flagship, the SS United States, the SS United States Conservancy will host a press conference to announce that it has signed an option agreement with a major redevelopment partner.”

“At the announcement, an exciting future for the ship will be revealed that envisions the SS United States again as an iconic symbol of America the world over. An artist rendering of the redeveloped ocean liner will also be unveiled. Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs will join the CEO from the development partner to provide details on the agreement and plans for the ship’s future. A brief question and answer session will be held immediately after the announcement.”

Royal Caribbean Reports Strong Earnings
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today reported 2015 results and provided guidance for 2016. Continuing on its Double-Double trajectory, the company's adjusted earnings for 2015 were $4.83 per share - up 42% over 2014, and are expected to further increase to $5.90 - $6.10 in 2016.

Captain Dino Sagani has been named master of its next new ship, Majestic PrincessFOURTH QUARTER RESULTS

Adjusted and US GAAP Net Income for the fourth quarter of 2015 was $206.8 million, or $0.94 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $70 million, or $0.32 per share, for the same period last year. Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel were down 4.7%, 70 basis points better than guidance, mainly due to timing. Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 4.9% versus guidance of 4.5% to 5.0%. Stronger demand in the Caribbean and new China sailings in the winter drove an improvement versus last year.

FULL YEAR 2015 RESULTS

Adjusted Net Income for the full year 2015 was $1.07 billion, or $4.83 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $755.7 million, or $3.39 per share, for the full year 2014. This represents a 42% year-over-year increase. US GAAP Net Income for the full year 2015 was $665.8 million.

Net Yields for the full year 2015 increased 3.5% on a Constant-Currency basis versus 2.4% in 2014.

NCC excluding fuel were down 0.6% on a Constant-Currency basis, marking another year of strong cost control. The average bunker price net of hedging for full year 2015 was $582 per metric ton and consumption was 1,367,000 metric tons.

Last quarter, Royal Caribbean announced that its Pullmantur brand would re-focus to the core market of Spain as a result of the deterioration of economies in Latin America. Royal Caribbean said that it recorded a non-cash impairment charge of $399.3 million related to this change, which is reflected in the US GAAP Net Income figure.

During 2015, the US Dollar strengthened while the price of fuel in world markets declined. While the impact of currency is immediate, there is a lag before a change in the price of fuel flows through to business. There continues to be an inverse relationship between the foreign exchange impact on our currency exposures and fuel prices, but the offsets are not exact, especially in the short term. For 2015, the net impact of currency and fuel was a negative $0.25 per share relative to our January guidance.

FULL YEAR 2016

Royal Caribbean said that its booked position for 2016 is roughly equal to last year's record high, and at higher rates. Continued strength from North American consumers is driving strong demand for North American products such as Caribbean, Alaska, and Bermuda which represent over 50% of capacity for the year. These North American products combined with strong demand for Northern Europe and Asia sailings are expected to more than offset current pricing challenges impacting the Mediterranean, Australia and Brazil.

Royal Caribbean said that it expects a Net Yield increase in the range of 2.0% to 4.0% on a Constant-Currency basis and flat to up 2% on an As-Reported basis for the full year.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up 1% or less on a Constant-Currency basis and up 0.5% or less As-Reported.

"Despite some challenges in select destinations, our strong brands, innovative hardware and deployment optimization are continuing to deliver strong yield growth in 2016," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "These yields coupled with continued cost discipline are expected to result in another year of step change performance."

Over the past several months the dollar has continued to strengthen relative to our basket of currency exposures, while fuel prices have lowered – resulting in a negative $0.14 impact to earnings per share for 2016. Additionally, interest rates have recently increased, which are negatively impacting earnings by $0.06 per share.

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it currently estimates 2016 Adjusted EPS will be in the range of $5.90 - $6.10 per share.

As Royal Caribbean noted previously, due to the weakness in the economies in Latin America, it is re-focusing the Pullmantur brand on its core market of Spain and right-sizing the brand. Part of this right-sizing includes anticipated restructuring and related charges during 2016 in the range of $0.05 to $0.10 per share. Additionally, Royal Caribbean said that it plans to eliminate the two-month reporting lag for the Pullmantur brand in the first quarter of 2016 resulting in a negative impact of approximately $0.10 per share. Both adjustments will be excluded from key metrics for transparency and comparability purposes.

FIRST QUARTER 2016

Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be up approximately 4.0% in the first quarter of 2016 (approximately 0.5% As-Reported). A strong Caribbean environment, combined with Quantum of the Seas' first winter product in China, is driving the majority of the improvement.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up in the range of 4.5% to 5.0% on a Constant-Currency basis (3.5% to 4.0% As-Reported). While planned operating costs for the full year show continued strong expense discipline, the timing of costs between quarters varies considerably. Royal Caribbean said that it has a higher level of dry docks during the first and fourth quarters than the previous year. It also plans to increase first quarter costs related to the expansion in China and for the launch of new marketing campaigns for the core brands. In addition, although Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas are being delivered in the second quarter, there are some preparatory costs incurred in the months before delivery. As a result, costs are more concentrated than usual in the first quarter.

Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it expects first quarter Adjusted EPS to be approximately $0.30 per share.

Princess Names Master of Majestic Princess
Princess Cruises announced today that Captain Dino Sagani has been named master of its next new ship, Majestic Princess. He will lead a senior officer team with more than 100 years of seagoing experience among them.

Captain Dino Sagani has been named master of its next new ship, Majestic PrincessThe relief Captain appointed to Majestic Princess is Princess Cruises' veteran, Captain Craig Street.

"We're thrilled to appoint such experienced captains to our new cruise ship destined for China," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "These skilled officers bring considerable seagoing and management skills and we know they will deliver an exceptional and memorable cruise vacation experience to all Majestic Princess guests."

Captain Dino Sagani has served on board the ships of Princess Cruises for over 21 years having commanded a variety of Princess vessels, including Sea Princess, Dawn Princess, Sapphire Princess, Diamond Princess and most recently as relief captain on board Royal Princess and Regal Princess. Sagani was born in Trieste on the North East Adriatic coast of Italy. Following the family tradition, he studied at the Nautical College in Trieste, which is one of the oldest Nautical Schools in Europe. On completion of his studies, he joined the Italian Navy, serving on a minesweeper during the first Gulf War. After the Navy, he joined Princess Cruises in 1995, where he quickly climbed the ranks and was promoted to Captain in 2007.

Captain Craig Street has commanded a variety of Princess vessels, including Caribbean Princess, Golden Princess, Sea Princess, Sun Princess, the former Royal Princess and Pacific Jewel, with sister Company P&O Australia. In addition, Captain Street has previously had the opportunity to bring three Princess cruise ships into service from the same shipyard in Italy; namely the Caribbean Princess, Sea Princess & Dawn Princess. Street was born in Norfolk, England, spent most of his youth living in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1990 he joined the Princess family as a deck cadet and after serving 3 years as an apprentice, qualified as 3rd Officer in 1993. Since then he has advanced through the ranks with his first command being the Star Princess in 2008.

Setting sail in spring 2017, Majestic Princess will offer many of the same special features as Royal Princess and Regal Princess, which have been so well-received. These include a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; an over-the-ocean SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; and a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light.

As the first ship built and designed specifically for the China market, Majestic Princess will also feature a number of new venues and experiences created for this market, with more details revealed in the coming months.

Majestic Princess will be based in China year-round and be home-ported in Shanghai, carrying 3,560 guests.

Carnival Inspiration in Final Stages of Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation
Carnival Inspiration in Final Stages of Multi-Million-Dollar RenovationCarnival Inspiration is shown here at the Vigor Shipyard in Portland, Ore., during the final stages of an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock that began January 18.

Along with a number of new dining and bar concepts that are being added during the three-week-long renovation, the 2,052-passenger vessel was taken out of the water to undergo routine maintenance, including a new hull coating, as well as the addition of shore power capabilities.

New onboard features being added during the dry dock include Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, a Mexican eatery called BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic tacos and burritos, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the Cherry on Top sweets and novelty store, and two new poolside watering holes — RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar.

Carnival Inspiration will reposition from Portland to its homeport of Long Beach, Calif., then resume its year-round schedule of three- and four-day Baja cruises Feb. 8.

Silversea Cruises Announces New Head of Americas
Silversea Cruises today announced the appointment of cruise industry veteran Mark Conroy as head of the company's Miami office, which has responsibility for the Americas.Silversea Cruises today announced the appointment of cruise industry veteran Mark Conroy as head of the company's Miami office, which has responsibility for the Americas.

"I have known, appreciated and respected Mark for more than twenty years and cannot hide my satisfaction in having him join us," said Silversea's chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio. "He is an energetic leader with extensive knowledge of the cruise industry."

"As of today, Mark will contribute greatly to the further growth of Silversea Cruises," said Silversea CEO Enzo Visone. "Our expansion plans are well known. Our new ship, Silver Muse, is on schedule to join our fleet at the beginning of 2017, which together with our plans to refurbish and upgrade our existing vessels, will solidify our leadership position in the top segment of the cruise market. I am pleased to join Manfredi in welcoming Mark Conroy to Silversea Cruises."

The company also confirms that Kristian Anderson has stepped down as Silversea's senior vice president and general manager for the Americas.

"We thank Kristian for his contributions over the past years and wish him well for his future endeavors," commented Visone.

AIDA Cruises Launches Global Casting Call for Entertainers
German-based AIDA Cruises announced this week that it is planning a series of worldwide auditions in search of the 570 entertainers needed for the 24 stages on its 10 cruise ships.

AIDA Cruises Launches Global Casting Call for EntertainersThe casting calls for singers, actors, dancers and other performers will be held in 11 cities and seven countries, with the first casting call being held today through Wednesday in London's renowned Pineapple Dance Studios. The calls will provide opportunities for performers in cities from Kiev to Los Angeles and New York to showcase their talents in hopes of securing a coveted position on Germany's largest and most popular cruise line.

"In addition to a first-class dance and artist ensemble, we are looking for excellent rock, pop and musical singers whose talents will thrill our guests every day at our exclusive and innovative shows," said Christoph Süsens, head of casting at AIDA Cruises. "Our performers must be able to not only sing and dance, they must also be consummate entertainers who will instantly spellbind audiences with their expressiveness and charm."

Once performers are selected, they will rehearse up to 12 shows across genres in Hamburg at the brand's AIDA Entertainment facility, where the elaborate shows are developed and produced by a creative team.

There is additional excitement this year with the launch of the brand's newest ship, AIDAprima, which will begin sailing in April 2016 as the first German cruise ship to operate year-round from Hamburg. Some of the entertainers will be chosen to perform on the new ship's AIDA Beachclub and Club Nightfly during itineraries that take guests to ports of call throughout Western Europe.

The search for the world's top talent includes events in 11 cities spanning seven countries, including:

London, February 1-3
Amsterdam, February 29-March 1
Hamburg, Germany, March 7-8
Gothenburg, Sweden, March 14-15
Stockholm, Sweden, March 16-17
Kiev, Ukraine, April 16-17
Los Angeles, April 21-22
New York, April 25-27
Copenhagen, Denmark, May 9-10
London, June 6-8

Performers who are auditioning should be able to speak English. For singers, being able to speak German is not required during auditions, but those who are selected will be expected to learn to sing two to three songs in German during the rehearsal period at AIDA Entertainment.

Carnival Corporation & plc Announces Carnival plc Share Sale And Carnival Corporation Stock Repurchase Program
Carnival Corporation Announces Carnival plc Share Sale And Carnival Corporation Stock Repurchase ProgramCarnival Corporation & plc announces that Carnival Corporation and Carnival Investments Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, intend to sell existing Carnival plc ordinary shares that they hold in the UK market ("Share Sales"). The ordinary shares will be sold from time to time in the UK in "at the market" transactions at times when the Carnival Corporation common stock is trading at a discount to Carnival plc shares. Carnival Corporation & plc intends to use the net proceeds of the Carnival plc Share Sales to repurchase Carnival Corporation common stock on at least an equivalent basis in the U.S. market ("Stock Swap Repurchase"), and to use the remaining net proceeds, if any, for general corporate purposes. Carnival Corporation & plc only intends to trade where it will derive an economic benefit from the Carnival plc Share Sales and Carnival Corporation Stock Swap Repurchase program.

Depending upon market conditions, Carnival Corporation and Carnival Investments Limited over time will sell up to 26,900,000 ordinary shares of Carnival plc in this program. Under the terms of the articles of association of Carnival plc the ordinary shares sold by Carnival Corporation and Carnival Investments Limited will, once held outside of the Carnival Corporation group, become re-enfranchised for voting purposes.

Carnival plc has filed a registration statement on Form S-3ASR (including a prospectus) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") in relation to the Share Sales program, for U.S. regulatory purposes. Interested parties should read the prospectus in that registration statement and the other documents that Carnival Corporation & plc have filed with the SEC that are incorporated by reference into the prospectus for more complete information about Carnival Corporation & plc and this program. These documents are available at no charge by visiting EDGAR on the SEC Web site at www.sec.gov. You may also request a copy of the prospectus for this offering, and the documents incorporated by reference into the prospectus from Carnival Corporation & plc, without charge, upon written or oral request.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 48.97 - 1.71%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 84.52 + 1.38%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.65 - 5.02%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.06 - 0.55%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When the Seabourn Spirit was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia several years ago, it used an innovative technology to help repel the pirates. What was the technology called and how does it work?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the two converted liners that engaged in the first, and last, wartime confrontation between ocean liners.

Answer - Cunard's Carmania and Hamburg-South America's Cap Trafalgar exchanged nerly 1,000 rounds before the Cap Trafalgar eventually sank on September 13, 1914.
courtesy of Tim Flanagan, Miami, FL.


Cruise News - January 25, 2016

HAL’s ms Koningsdam Reaches Milestone with Successful Completion of Sea Trials
Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam returned to Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard Saturday, Jan. 16, after successfully completing two sets of sea trials off the Italian coast.

HAL’s ms Koningsdam Reaches Milestone with Successful Completion of Sea Trials Koningsdam left Marghera Jan. 2 and performed the first set of sea trials over three days before going into dry dock at Fincantieri’s Trieste shipyard, where standard hull maintenance was performed. The ship sailed its second sea trials Jan. 10 through 16, making its way back to Marghera, where the finishing touches will be completed.

“Koningsdam is a new class of ship for Holland America Line, so everyone was eager to get the ship out in the open water for the first time on sea trials,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. "Koningsdam delivered a strong performance and is now back at the ship yard for the final phase of work in anticipation of the early April delivery.”

During the sea trials, Koningsdam underwent a series of performance tests on the ship’s systems, machinery and engines. Captain Emiel de Vries, Koningsdam’s master-designate, has not yet taken command of the ship, but he participated in testing the ship’s maneuvering characteristics and safety systems together with the shipyard’s team of naval architects and builders.

In its inaugural year, Koningsdam will feature a variety of itineraries in the Mediterranean, northern Europe and the Caribbean. The ship’s naming ceremony is scheduled for May 20, 2016, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Princess Announces $450 Million Multi-Year Cruise Ship Renovation Campaign
Princess Cruises announces The Come Back New Promise, a $450 million multi-year product innovation and cruise ship renovation campaign that will continue to enhance the line's onboard guest experience. These enhancements will result in more transformative moments, lifetime memories and meaningful stories for guests to share from their cruise vacation.

Stein Kruse, CEO Princess Cruises (left) and Jan Swartz, President Princess Cruises (right) joined by partners Chef Curtis Stone, Designer Candice Olson, Sleep Expert Dr. Michael Breus and Chef Ernesto Uchimura who were together to announce the Come Back New Promise"The Come Back New Promise differentiates our approach to cruising and offers our guests enriching vacation experiences by connecting them with each other, nature and different cultures in a new way," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Our promise is to provide guests transformative moments designed to inspire them to discover the world and themselves, ultimately allowing us to declare that a cruise isn't good enough unless you 'come back new.'"

The campaign demonstrates a commitment by Princess Cruises to exceed guest expectations while continuously improving upon and delivering a high value cruise vacation experience that inspires guests to return and introduce cruising to their family and friends.

Recently, Princess introduced new initiatives inspired to deliver The Come Back New Promise which further elevate the line's wellness, culinary/dining experiences and expands the partnership with Discovery Communications. They include:


• Chef Curtis Stone – a partnership with award-winning chef, New York Times best-selling author and restaurateur Curtis Stone brings guests fresh, new culinary creations. All Princess ships will feature "Crafted by Curtis" menu items in the main dining room, while on select ships guests will enjoy "SHARE" a brand new specialty restaurant which will include a new Chef's Table experience designed by Stone.
• The Princess Luxury Bed – featuring a new specially designed bed to deliver the ultimate night of sleep at sea the Princess Luxury Bed was developed in collaboration with experts in both the science and beauty of sleep -- Dr. Michael Breus, "The Sleep Doctor," and highly acclaimed designer, Candice Olson, star of the hit HGTV shows "Candice Tells All" and "Divine Design" -- Princess is installing more than 44,000 new beds, to every stateroom, across the fleet through 2018.
• The Salty Dog Gastropub – another new dining option which highlights a variety of small bites inspired by pub favorites, adapted for an upscale culinary experience. Developed in collaboration with Ernesto Uchimura, a founding chef of the original Umami Burger, guests will also enjoy a variety of beer, whiskey and cocktail selections. Currently available on select ships.
• Style at Sea with TLC – What to pack, what to wear and how to look stylish are just a few of the many questions guests ask when preparing for a cruise vacation. With the help of TLC's fashion expert Stacy London, Style at Sea with TLC will provide tips and tricks to help guests feel and look their best while aboard a cruise.

Previously, Princess unveiled these initiatives which became the inspiration for The Come Back New Promise campaign, providing guests new culinary, enrichment and entertainment experiences, including:


• Chocolate Journeys - An immersive chocolate experience designed by Master Chocolatier Norman Love, exclusive to Princess, was launched offering delectable desserts, wine and chocolate pairings and specialty chocolate cocktails. New chocolate offerings allow guests to indulge in even more custom-crafted signature desserts in new venues throughout the ship, as well as chocolate pairings with tea and more.
• Discovery at Sea - A partnership with Discovery Communications, which brings new, innovative activities and shore excursions to the Princess-guest experience through hit shows like Deadliest Catch and Shark Week.
• New Original Musical Productions – Magic to Do, the first of four musical production shows created in collaboration with Stephen Schwartz, award-winning composer and songwriter of Wicked, Godspell and Pippin, combines exhilarating magic with some of Schwartz's most famous songs. Plus, the show features a brand new song written exclusively for Princess. Magic to Do debuted to critical acclaim and is currently running aboard Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess.
• Festivals of the World - Around the world, in every season, festivals bring people together to celebrate the uniqueness of a culture and its heritage often in the most colorful ways. Princess hosts festivals onboard that originate from nearly every corner of the globe. From Mardi Gras to Rio Carnival, guests enjoy parties, enriching activities, lively musical performances, festival-related movies and specialty shopping.
• Craft Beer Series – Through partnerships with regional breweries that specialize in local flavor, Princess started the series with an award-winning West Coast IPA from Strike Brewing Company in San Jose, Calif., followed it with a special 50th Anniversary blend and have since added the Alaska Denali Red Ale, East Coast Blonde Lager and the Australian Gold Ale.
• Princess@Sea Messenger - Guests have the opportunity to be connected with their fellow cruisers using mobile messenger, an instant message feature offering an easy way to make plans, confirm a meeting location while onboard the ship. The Princess@Sea Messenger is integrated in the complimentary Princess@Sea mobile app, accessed via a smartphone or tablet browser.

More announcements about ship renovations, entertainment and accommodations, in association with The Come Back New Promise campaign, are on the horizon and sure to bring Princess Cruises offerings to new heights.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas Amps up Fun For Entire Family
Royal Caribbean International is taking family fun to new heights onboard its newest ship, Harmony of the Seas. Guests setting sail aboard Harmony to Europe’s most popular destinations in the Western Mediterranean will be able to enjoy more family-friendly offerings than ever before, such as Royal Caribbean’s signature DreamWorks Experience, enhanced entertainment in the award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program, and a new collection of family amenities -- two thoughtful collections of experiences that highlight what travelers tend to enjoy most on vacation: eat, play, drink -- in the signature balcony staterooms boasting views of the distinct Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods. Combined with The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, The Perfect Storm trio of water slides and Splashaway Bay interactive aqua park for kids, Harmony of the Seas will bring a jolt of adventure for the entire family aboard the world’s largest cruise ship when she arrives in May 2016.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas Amps up Fun For Entire FamilyDreamWorks Animation Characters Set Sail - When Harmony of the Seas debuts in approximately 117 days, she will bring with her a familiar cast of DreamWorks Animation characters including Po of Kung Fu Panda; Shrek, Fiona and Puss in Boots of Shrek; and from Madagascar, Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien and the Penguins. Guests will enjoy events and activities based on DreamWorks Animation's popular feature-film characters, including a DreamWorks Character breakfast in the main dining room, ‘meet and greet’ experiences throughout the day, as well as photo opportunities that can be immediately shared with family and friends back home thanks to VOOM, the fastest internet at sea.

Royal Caribbean's younger guests can enjoy an exhilarating line-up of activities, from story time to dance parties, games and adventures rooted in the popular DreamWorks Animation films at the complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program. Only on Royal Caribbean, parents and kids alike can enjoy peace of mind knowing that they have guaranteed seats on “opening weekend” of highly anticipated feature films such as "Kung Fu Panda 3,” which premieres onboard the same day it does in theaters on land. Year-round, guests can watch the latest and long-term favorite DreamWorks Animation films in the ship’s 3D movie theater and on a dedicated DreamWorks TV channel in their stateroom.

Enhanced Adventure Ocean Programming - Royal Caribbean’s complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program will continue to offer young guests, ages three to eleven, an entertaining line-up of activities and games rooted in fun and excitement. New to be offered in Harmony’s Adventure Ocean Theater is Away We Go!, a black light puppet show created by Tony® award-nominated actors and imaginative producers John Tartaglia by and Michael Shawn Lewis of Gable Grove Productions.

Additionally, programming by “Muffalo Potato” – the popular YouTube show, which teaches kids to draw anything in minutes using only letters and numbers – will round out Harmony’s lineup. Muffalo Potato originally debuted aboard Anthem of the Seas and will expand fleetwide just in time for summer vacations, starting with Harmony of the Seas.

New Family Amenities for Central Park and Boardwalk Staterooms - Families vacationing together on Harmony of the Seas, as well as Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, will be able to take advantage of the new collection of added benefits to balcony staterooms overlooking the Central Park and Boardwalk outdoor neighborhoods. Starting in November 2016, the signature views will be complemented and enhanced with amenities that feature the best of what each neighborhood has to offer. Guests with views of Central Park – a revolutionary design in which the center of the ship opens to the sky, and features lush, tropical grounds spanning the length of a football field – will enjoy lunch for two at Jamie’s Italian, serving rustic Italian favorites from world-renowned chef Jamie Oliver, or Harmony of the Seas or Giovanni’s Table onboard Oasis and Allure of the Seas; a complimentary bottle of red wine upon arrival; and special perks in the Casino Royale. Guests with Boardwalk views – a neighborhood inspired by the nostalgic boardwalks of yesteryear – will receive lunch or dinner for four at Johnny Rockets, a family favorite featuring old-fashioned burgers and fries; a soda beverage package for two; and private time on the cruise line’s iconic 38-foot tall rock wall.

Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, will span 16 guest decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,497 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis-class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean's exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. For more information about Harmony of the Seas, please visit RoyalCaribbean.com/HarmonyoftheSeas.

Holland America Line Launches New Advertising Campaign
Holland America Line is evolving its image with a new brand campaign that introduces a refreshed logo, new advertising campaign and new tag line that invites guests to "Savor the Journey." The new slogan encourages travelers to embrace the exhilaration of a Holland America Line cruise, both aboard ship and ashore.

Holland America Line Launches New Advertising CampaignThe updated blue and white logo is still classic, but simpler and forward looking. It continues to feature the company's timeless oval around a Holland America Line ship, with the bold blue hull that guests associate with the brand purposefully breaking out of the oval plane. Fonts were updated to be cleaner and more contemporary and the new "Savor the Journey" tagline appears under the company name.

"'Savor the Journey' is all-encompassing and tells the story of today's Holland America Line cruise experience, from our breadth of destinations to our classic style, gracious service, impeccable cuisine and onboard entertainment and enrichment programs," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "Our goal is to marry how we present the brand with what motivates our guests to travel today. That theme carries through to the logo, advertising, marketing collateral, partnerships and other enhancements.

"Holland America Line is evolving, and we are certain that travel professionals are taking notice and will appreciate our extensive efforts to drive cruise business," added Ashford. "We are committed to the agent community and all advertising directs consumers to contact a travel professional."

In addition to the logo and tagline, Holland America Line is introducing new advertising efforts that include both local-market and national television commercials — a first for the cruise line in several years. Emphasizing the company's classic style and enriching journeys, the integrated campaign also includes new print ads, radio spots, digital advertising, direct mail and email.

The 30-second television commercial takes viewers on a visual journey through the sights and sounds of a Holland America Line cruise. From the memorable adventures shore side in ports around the world to the elegant onboard ambiance that the brand is known for, viewers will become immersed in the Holland America Line experience.

Television ads and radio spots will run through late March in Boston, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Denver, Colo.; Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.; and Washington, D.C. Some national television placements and exposure helped kick off the campaign. Viewers can look for the commercials during a variety of shows including "Today," "The Voice," "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," "Saturday Night Live" and "60 Minutes," as well as during other programming on networks including HGTV, History, Bravo, Golf Channel, MSNBC, USA Network and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

"We haven't had a broadcast campaign to this extent in many years, so it's exciting to see the brand taking steps to increase awareness and spread the word that if you want to see the world in the most enriching way possible, Holland America Line is the company to take you there," Ashford added.

The new print ads encourage travelers with taglines of "Write the Next Great Chapter in Your Life Story" and use vivid imagery to illustrate "Mediterranean Blues and Delta Blues. On One Cruise." Another ad proves that it's not impossible to visit "Barcelona and Lincoln Center in One Day" on a Holland America Line ship.

Readers will find the new print ads running in leading travel and lifestyle publications, including AFAR; Bon Appétit; Condé Nast Traveler; Departures; Food & Wine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Porthole; Smithsonian; Travel + Leisure and more, as well as top trade publications.

Royal Caribbean And World Wildlife Fund Announce Global Partnership
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced today a five-year global partnership to help ensure the long-term health of the oceans.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced today a five-year global partnership to help ensure the long-term health of the oceans. Pictured from left to right are: Joel Palma, President & CEO, WWF Philippines; Josephine A. Cruz, Mayor, Donsol, Philippines and Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.The partners will set measurable and achievable sustainability targets that will reduce Royal Caribbean's environmental footprint, raise awareness about ocean conservation among the company's more than five million guests, and support WWF's global oceans conservation work.

The CEOs of WWF and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. discuss their common goal of protecting the oceans and explain the ambitious new conservation partnership between the organizations.

"Our mantra at Royal Caribbean is 'Continuous Improvement,' and this partnership with WWF represents a great opportunity to make a big step forward in meeting our special responsibility to protect the oceans," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "It is also gratifying to see that our determination to make a meaningful difference is shared by our employees and our guests. This new partnership aligns all of us at RCL with WWF's mission to conserve the world's oceans. Together we are setting aggressive goals and together we will start implementing them right away."

"The threats that are facing the ocean are greater than ever – in the last 30 years, some ocean wildlife populations have declined by nearly 50 percent. If we are going to reverse the downward trends, we must take serious steps to repair, restore and protect the oceans," said Carter Roberts, WWF-US President and CEO. "This initiative centers on two core concepts: first, committing to specific and measurable targets to reduce carbon emissions, increase sustainable sourcing and build destination stewardship; and second, comprehensively engaging their millions of travelers to learn about the ocean and then act to help save it."

Royal Caribbean Cruises and WWF jointly developed new 2020 environmental sustainability targets for the company that includes:

Carbon Emissions 2020 Target:


• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent by 2020.

Sustainable Seafood 2020 Target


• Responsibly source 90% of its wild-caught seafood by volume from MSC certified sustainable fisheries, fisheries in full assessment for MSC certification, comprehensive Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs), and/or sourced from International Seafood Sustainability Association (ISSA) member companies.
• In North America and Europe operations, responsibly source 75% of its farmed seafood by volume from ASC certified responsible farms, farms in full assessment for ASC certification, and/or comprehensive aquaculture improvement projects.
• In addition, by June 30, 2016, RCL will set specific traceability goals with targets for obtaining MSC and ASC chain of custody.

In addition, Royal Caribbean and WWF have agreed to develop and announce new targets by June 30 that will address destination stewardship. As part of this, WWF and RCL will collaborate to strengthen RCL's destination sustainability assessment and selection process.

Royal Caribbean also will financially support WWF's global ocean conservation work through a $5 million philanthropic contribution during the partnership, and will collaborate with WWF to build global awareness about ocean conservation issues among its millions of passengers.

The organizations made their announcement at an event in Donsol, Sorsogon, Philippines that is home to a model community-based ecotourism program. At the event, RCL also made a separate, $200,000 donation to WWF Philippines in support of conservation programs in the Donsol area.

Carnival Corporation to Host The Nature Conservancy's Mapping Ocean Wealth Annual Meeting
Carnival Corporation & plc will welcome representatives from leading conservation, science and sustainability organizations Jan. 26-27 to its Miami headquarters for The Nature Conservancy's Mapping Ocean Wealth annual forum. Carnival Corporation, in partnership with the Carnival Foundation, awarded a $2.5 million gift over five years in 2014 to support The Nature Conservancy's work on Mapping Ocean Wealth and global marine protection priorities, and hosting this week's summit at the company's headquarters underscores its commitment to a healthy and sustainable environment.

The Mapping Ocean Wealth initiative is designed to create a new kind of knowledge about how and where ocean benefits are produced – and mapping those areas.The Mapping Ocean Wealth initiative is designed to create a new kind of knowledge about how and where ocean benefits are produced – and mapping those areas. Coral reefs and mangroves, for example, provide numerous benefits, including fish production, flood mitigation, erosion control and recreation. The project will be transformational to ocean management and will improve investments in conservation, restoration and economic development by identifying and mapping the areas where these benefits are produced.

The meeting will also highlight updated research in the areas supporting tourism, the coastal ocean's CO2 sequestration capacity and coastal protection specific to coral reefs and mangroves, which are present in ports around the world and whose health is an important environmental priority for Carnival Corporation and its 10 cruise line brands operating in more than 700 global ports.

Along with Carnival Corporation, representatives from The World Bank, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), World Resources Institute (WRI), University of British Columbia, Duke University, GRID-Arendal and others will join The Nature Conservancy at the meeting.

"The Nature Conservancy's Mapping Ocean Wealth project will identify the most critical areas for public and private action in support of our oceans, as well as help showcase the latest research on issues such as tourism, coastal protection and fish production," said Elaine Heldewier, sustainability director for Carnival Corporation. "As the world's largest cruise company, we have 11 million guests a year sailing with our 10 global brands, and many of our 120,000 employees work and live for extended periods of time on our oceans and seas. So it is a top priority for us to protect and sustain the environment, and supporting leading conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy and many others underscores our commitment to sustainability. We look forward to two days of learning how new research and specific initiatives can further our joint goals."

"Our annual meeting will advance the discussion of how ocean habitats benefit us all, and how well-informed conservation initiatives can yield lasting, measurable outcomes," added Rob Brumbaugh, director of ocean mapping and planning for The Nature Conservancy. "Mapping Ocean Wealth demonstrates what the ocean does for us today so that we can maximize what the ocean does for us tomorrow."

Supporting the 2016 Mapping Ocean Wealth meeting is the latest example of Carnival Corporation's ongoing support of The Nature Conservancy. In June 2015 the company announced that its first year of supporting The Nature Conservancy helped the conservation organization further some of its critical preservation activities. Highlights included:


• building new coral nurseries in the Caribbean
• transplanting 20,000 corals in the Bahamas and U.S. Virgin Islands
• installing new pilot reef enhancement structures to provide greater habitat for fish and a potential area for future coral growth in Grenada's Grenville Bay

Additional information on the Mapping Ocean Wealth forum is available online at http://www.oceanwealth.org, as well as via the official Twitter account @Ocean_Wealth.

Lindblad Expeditions Celebrates 50th Anniversary Of First Citizen-Explorer Voyage To Antarctica
In 1966, Lars-Eric Lindblad made history when he took 57 intrepid travelers on the first ever 'citizen explorers' cruise to Antarctica, previously the exclusive province of professional explorers and scientists. January 23rd marks the exact day that these pioneering travelers stepped off the ship and into history at Smith & Melchior Islands on the Antarctic Peninsula. It was certainly an imaginative leap in the tourism industry of his day, and for its time, almost as daring as a lunar launch today.

Lindblad Expeditions' guests in Antarctica this week honor Lars-Eric's pioneering vision with a special 50th on the iceHis conviction earned him the designation of 'father of eco-tourism.'

Lars-Eric Lindblad invented the category of 'expedition travel,' and created a model of exploration that Lindblad Expeditions follows today. Fifty years later, under the direction of Lars-Eric's son, CEO and Founder Sven Lindblad, they are guided by Lars-Eric's belief that seeing the planet's remote wild places with one's own eyes would make each visitor an advocate for preserving and protecting. And it is his legacy that Lindblad honors and sustains today in their deep commitment to conservation through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund.

Throughout the year Lindblad will celebrate Lars-Eric's personal vision and courage - and that of the fearless travelers who dared join him in going where no tourist had gone before.


• The commemoration will include the publication of an updated edition of Lars-Eric's book, 'Passport to Anywhere' that charts the history of expedition travel from 1966 to now.
• Guests voyaging to Antarctica in the 2016/17 season will receive a complimentary vintage style edition parka, with a limited edition 50th Anniversary patch, inspired by the sterling silver pin created by Lars Eric for his Antarctic guests many years ago.
• Antarctica expeditions on National Geographic Explorer will feature a roster of Global Perspectives Speakers, a veritable 'Who's Who,' giving guests the opportunity to share an adventure with some of the greatest names in polar exploration.
• Special activities and programs are being planned and will be announced throughout the year.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.82 + 1.53%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.37 + 2.82%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.49 + 9.84%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.32 + 0.25%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the two converted liners that engaged in the first, and last, wartime confrontation between ocean liners.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which former Atlantic liner ended her long career being subjected to partial flooding and numerous explosions as she served as a floating prop in the 1959 MGM film The Last Voyage?

Answer - The ship was the Ile de France from 1927. The only good thing about this picture was that people who did not sail her could see her beautiful interiors. The French were very upset and I guess I would have been as well.
courtesy of Bill Forsstrom in Cincinnati


Cruise News - January 18, 2016

Queen Mary 2 Adds Passenger Mid-Crossing
When Cunard's Queen Mary 2 arrived in New York on Sunday she was carrying one more passenger than when she had departed Southampton on the first leg of her 2016 World Cruise seven days earlier. This is because a passenger from Germany gave birth to a baby boy on Saturday night. According to Cunard, the birth was the first ever onboard the line's flagship.

Queen Mary 2 Adds Passenger Mid-CrossingThe passenger, who was identified by her first name, Johanna was still three weeks from her scheduled due date when her water broke and the ship's medical staff jumped into action. According to her brother who was traveling with her, "She turned to me and said, 'It's starting!'. Johanna was taken to the ship's medical center where the ship's doctor delivered a healthy baby boy shortly thereafter.

According to the Uncle, the baby boy is named Benjamin Brooklyn - a tribute to Queen Mary 2's home port in New York. After the ship docked at 6am on Sunday, Johanna and Benjamin were taken to New York Methodist Hospital for a checkup. They were expected to stay in New York for several days.

In a statement, Johanna thanked the people of New York, "I am doing well, and the baby is incredibly healthy. I am also thankful how good the people of New York were to us".

Carnival Inspiration To Undergo Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation
The 2,052-passenger Carnival Inspiration will undergo a multi-million-dollar makeover that will add a wide range of new dining and bar innovations next month.

Carnival Inspiration To Undergo Multi-Million-Dollar RenovationThe new features will be incorporated during a three-week dry dock taking place in Portland, Ore., Jan. 18 to Feb. 5, 2016. Following the renovation, the ship will resume its year-round schedule of three- and four-day Baja cruises from Long Beach, Calif.

Here’s a look at the exciting new options that will be added to Carnival Inspiration:

• Guy’s Burger Joint, a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture

• BlueIguana Cantina, a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar

• RedFrog Rum Bar, a poolside watering hole offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s own private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red

• Alchemy Bar, a vintage-themed “cocktail pharmacy”-themed lounge with mixologists who “prescribe” concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative monikers like Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop

• BlueIguana Tequila Bar, a fun and festive outdoor bar offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin’ by the pool

• Cherry On Top, the “sweetest spot on board” which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more

In addition to these new spaces, guests sailing aboard Carnival Inspiration can check out the ship’s massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 300-foot-long Twister slide and a kiddie splash zone, a 24-hour pizzeria, full casino gambling, a luxurious 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness center, and the Serenity adults-only retreat.

On its year-round short cruise program from Long Beach, Carnival Inspiration departs every Friday on three-day cruises to Ensenada and every Monday on four-day cruises to Ensenada and Catalina Island.

HAL’s ms Eurodam Receives New Public Rooms and Suite Upgrades in Dry Dock
When ms Eurodam re-entered service Dec. 20, 2015, following a scheduled 14-day dry dock in the Bahamas, guests were introduced to several new concepts recently announced by Holland America Line. The most notable new additions are Lincoln Center Stage, in partnership with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, showcasing an ensemble performing chamber music; Billboard Onboard, in partnership with Billboard, featuring 50 years of chart-topping hits; and Gallery Bar, making its debut in the former Northern Lights venue.

The traditional Lido became Lido Market and received an upgrade in service and menu, and New York Pizza replaced Slice. Eurodam also is the first Holland America Line ship to undergo extensive enhancements to its suites as part of a $300 million brand enhancement initiative announced in November.

“To keep the onboard experience fresh, we’re always working to create new and innovative concepts to delight our guests,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Gallery Bar is a completely new venue for us, and several other enhancements are just starting to make their way onto the fleet, so it’s exciting that our guests are finally able to experience them all together for the first time on Eurodam.”

Entertainment Expands with Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard Guests have more entertainment options than ever before with the addition of Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard, which complement the already-existing and wildly popular B.B. King’s Blues Club. Under the exclusive partnership, Lincoln Center Stage showcases an ensemble of world-class musicians performing multiple chamber music programs nightly. On those occasions when guests are enjoying a leisurely day at sea aboard ship, the ensemble plays afternoon recitals. Billboard Onboard features the talents of live musicians — including two pianists, a guitarist and a DJ — who take turns performing dynamic shows centered around the interesting facts and figures of the music industry as chronicled by Billboard. Between the nightly sets and songs, guests can sing and play along with trivia questions presented on screens throughout the room. ms Oosterdam will also receive these venues during its April dry dock, and other Vista- and Signature-class ships will see the additions over the next few years.

During the dry dock, Eurodam received the line’s first Gallery Bar.Raising a Glass in Gallery Bar - During the dry dock, Eurodam received the line’s first Gallery Bar. The sophisticated venue, serving an exclusive cocktail menu by celebrity mixologist Dale DeGroff, replaces Northern Lights and is adorned with an eclectic and whimsical mix of artwork including portraits, landscapes, still-life and abstract pieces. The décor was designed to engage guests and facilitate conversations in a relaxing environment. It will be introduced on ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Westerdam, ms Oosterdam and ms Zuiderdam by May 2018 as the ships enter their respective dry docks.

Food and Service Reign at Lido Market - The traditional casual Lido buffet has been transformed into the new Lido Market concept — a marketplace with different themed stations offering a select array of delicious options guests can grab on the go or have quickly made to order, from classic comfort food to dishes from around the globe to freshly made personalized salads. The range of choices includes specialty stations such as Breadboard, with fresh-baked breads and pastries; Wild Harvest, offering a bountiful selection of ingredients for made-to-order salads; Homestead, serving up comfort classics; Distant Lands, featuring exotic flavors from around the globe; Market Central, serving continental breakfast or light meals to go; Perk, where freshly brewed coffee, hot and iced tea and chilled juices are available; and Sweet Spot, dishing up delightful ice cream creations and desserts. Service at Lido Market is enhanced with coffee, juices, water and iced tea served tableside; and in the evening the tables have an upgraded setting with placemats, glassware and cutlery awaiting guests after they select their food from the new menu.

Pizza Made the New York Way - New York Pizza, which debuted on ms Nieuw Amsterdam, replaces Slice. New York Pizza offers five Big Apple-themed thin-crust personal pizzas made to order in less than 10 minutes, as well as the option to select your own preferred toppings from an extensive list. After ordering, diners are given a pager to alert them when their pie comes out of the oven. In the meantime, they can enjoy a salad, and afterwards the pizzeria offers a couple of sweet desserts to top off the meal.

Suite Accommodations Just Got Better - Eurodam is the first ship in the fleet to receive the suite upgrades planned for the line’s Signature-, Vista- and R-class ships. The main living area in each suite was refreshed with new furniture, carpet, wall coverings and soft goods. Electronic upgrades included a new USB outlet added to the bed’s headboard, bedside LED reading lights, upgraded electrical outlets and a lighted closet rod. Neptune and Pinnacle suites also received a Bose Bluetooth speaker.

Suite bathrooms also received a makeover, with designer glass tile serving as a backdrop to the refreshed vanity area. Other enhancements include contemporary mirrors with integrated LED lighting, stylish floor tiles and a nightlight.

A new interactive television system was installed throughout the ship, featuring large LED flat-screen TV’s with complimentary movies on demand as well as easy access to the daily program and shipboard information including restaurant overviews, spa services and guest billing

Royal Caribbean Announces Agreement with Forbidden City’s Imperial Palace Museum
Royal Caribbean International and the Imperial Palace Museum (the Palace Museum) held a joint press conference today at a signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement in the Forbidden City’s Jianfu Palace. Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship that debuts in April, will be the first to homeport in China immediately after its delivery. Her name is interpreted in Chinese as “praising the world and welcoming guests from everywhere” and she will offer a world-class international cruise vacation experience to guests from Tianjin beginning June 2016. The signing ceremony officially launches the “2016 – Let’s Ovation” campaign in China and marks the countdown to Ovation of the Seas’ maiden voyage in China.

Royal Caribbean Announces Agreement with Forbidden City’s Imperial Palace Museum As part of the agreement, experts from different research fields selected by the Palace Museum will be invited to give lectures of Chinese history and culture to guests on Ovation of the Seas. The Palace Museum also will provide professional consultation of the ship’s interior décor and art program. In addition, signature pieces from the collections of the Imperial Palace Museum will be on display to promote the traditional culture and arts of China. Paintings and art pieces created by artists from the Palace Museum will be available for guests to purchase at auctions held onboard.

“We are proud of the extensive collection of art and relics that represent the imperial treasures of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and it is our goal at The Palace Museum to showcase the traditional Chinese culture to people all over the world,” said Shan Jixian, Director of the Imperial Palace Museum. “This partnership with Royal Caribbean International and our programs on Ovation of the Seas will help to further these objectives. We are excited to promote the rich heritage of the Forbidden City and China to the guests of the world’s largest global cruise line and we hope to continue to expand on these efforts.”

Dr. Zinan Liu, President of North APAC and China, Royal Caribbean International said: “Cruising is becoming increasingly popular with Chinese travelers and Royal Caribbean’s award-winning and state-of-the-art ships with features found only on Royal Caribbean are very appealing to those consumers looking for a high quality vacation experience. Quantum of the Seas has been very well received by our Chinese guests and we are excited to now bring Ovation of the Seas to Tianjin. Sailing two of the world’s newest and most technologically advanced ships in China demonstrate our leadership and commitment to the market and this partnership with the Palace Museum showcasing China’s rich heritage will bring yet another unique element to our vacation offering.”

Ovation of the Seas and her sister ship Quantum of the Seas are both Quantum Class ships built with the most advanced technologies. The Quantum class features unprecedented first-at-sea features and amenities, including the North Star, an observation capsule that gently rises more than 300 feet in the air to treat guests to breath-taking panoramic views; thrilling skydiving and surfing experiences; TWO70 a daily social space which transforms into a multifunctional entertainment place at night; SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea, that features basketball, roller skating, bumper cars and other entertainment. There are 18 restaurants onboard with a variety of cuisines to choose from. The unique loft suites offer the most luxurious accommodations at sea, and Virtual Balcony staterooms, are interior accommodations with large digital screens displaying real-time views which ensure that every room has a view.

Ovation of the Seas will be officially launched in April 2016, when she departs Southampton for Tianjin, China on a 53-day Global Odyssey. She will begin her first homeport sailing season in China from Tianjin in June 2016. Ovation of the Seas, together with Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas, will make up the largest fleet of any cruise line sailing in China.

Carnival Corporation Appoints Chairman in China
Carnival Corporation today announced that Roger Chen has been appointed chairman in China, effective January 1, 2016. A native of China, Chen will be based in Shanghai and lead all government relations and port development, while also supporting the company's joint ventures in China. In this new role, Chen will have responsibility for representing all of Carnival Corporation's brands in China to continue growing the company's industry-leading presence and scale in the region.

Carnival Corporation today announced that Roger Chen has been appointed chairman in China, effective January 1, 2016Chen will report directly to Alan Buckelew, chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation, who relocated to Shanghai in 2014 to oversee operations in China. Buckelew will continue to provide strategic leadership to drive the company's long-term growth plans in Asia. Michael Ungerer, recently named chief operations officer-shared services for Carnival Asia, continues in his strategic role to support growth across the brands in Asia, reporting to Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group, with a dotted line to Chen.

"Roger comes to us with over 25 years of experience working for major global companies that have significant operations in China, as well as time spent working within the Chinese government, all of which will be invaluable to our growth strategy in China and Asia as a whole," said Alan Buckelew, chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation. "We look forward to Roger's leadership and deep knowledge of government affairs as he oversees Carnival Corporation's strategic initiatives across all our brands in China, where we expect continued growth and expansion as the leading cruise operator in what has quickly become one of the fastest growing markets in the world."

As a veteran leader in China, Chen's background includes strong expertise in corporate and government affairs, and in-depth knowledge of the Chinese government's policies and operations. Chen's experience includes several senior positions where he led strategic efforts in China for major multi-national corporations, including General Electric, Microsoft, Volvo Group and Alcatel. Most recently, Chen served as China president for Volvo Group, representing the company's interests across all business groups in China.

With the appointments of Roger Chen and Michael Ungerer, Carnival Corporation continues to bolster its Asia leadership team, which already includes veteran brand leaders Buhdy Bok, president of Costa Asia, and Anthony Kaufman, executive vice president, international operations for Princess Cruises. Among their overall responsibilities, Bok and Kaufman oversee operations in China for their respective brands, which currently anchor Carnival Corporation's market-leading presence in China with four total ships.

In 2016, Costa and Princess will again expand with each brand adding a ship to its fleet in China, representing a 58 percent increase in capacity in China in 2016, and making Carnival Corporation the first global cruise company with six total ships based in China later this year. In summer 2017, Princess Cruises will launch thefirst vessel built specifically for Chinese guests, Majestic Princess, which will be based in China year-round.

Additionally, the company has announced plans to operate two additional cruise brands in China in 2017. Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises will join Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises in the Chinese market in 2017, making Carnival Corporation the first company to operate four cruise brands in China. In December, the company announced it will build two new 135,500-ton ships with Italian-shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. for Costa Asia for deployment in China by 2020.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.07 - 9.03%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.08 - 13.38%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.54 - 0.39%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.20 - 15.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which former Atlantic liner ended her long career being subjected to partial flooding and numerous explosions as she served as a floating prop in the 1959 MGM film The Last Voyage?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
In 1973 CY Tung's Orient Overseas Line purchased 2 American passenger ships - what were their old and new names?

Answer - The ships were President Wilson & President Cleveland - which became Oriental Empress & Oriental President.
courtesy of Robert Stanley, Pelzer, SC


Cruise News - January 11, 2016

Celebrity Unveils New Global Campaign with "Modern Luxury Lives Here"
From the cruise line that brought the world the stunningly designed Solstice Class ships, which introduced a boutique-hotel feel that has evolved into a fully integrated modern luxury experience, comes a new, global brand campaign that acts as a beacon to discerning travelers who love exceptional cuisine, fine wine, luxurious accommodations, and rich destination experiences. Debuting today, Celebrity Cruises' bold new "Modern Luxury Lives Here" campaign leverages the iconic "X" in the Celebrity logo, and showcases what makes Celebrity truly unique. The fully integrated campaign will be visible across all channels, most noticeably on TV, digital and social media.

Celebrity Unveils New Global Campaign with Modern Luxury Lives HereThe cruise line's new 30- and 60-second TV spots, named "Marco Polo," offer a modern interpretation of the well-known game of call and response from childhood days gone by. The spot transcends the simplicity of the game when Celebrity Cruises staff members beckon like-minded travelers to answer the call of modern luxury. The spot targets those who would appreciate the experience that Celebrity delivers, just as Marco Polo was an explorer of the world who loved to discover and travel the globe. This creative will be complemented by three additional 30-second TV spots, which will debut later this month, and show what makes Celebrity so special. Two of these additional spots will also have a special 15-second version. The campaign marks the first public manifestation of Celebrity's collaboration with its new global creative agency, Venables Bell & Partners (VB&P).

"We are excited about the way 'Modern Luxury Lives Here' shows just how unique Celebrity is, and I love how our crew members and staff appear in our 'Marco Polo' spot," Lutoff-Perlo said. "The entire campaign brings to life, through storytelling and beautiful cinematography, some of our most important values, such as curiosity, discernment and experiences over possessions. No one delivers modern luxury more comprehensively than Celebrity, and this campaign clearly communicates that message."

"This is a recruitment drive," said Paul Venables, Chairman of VB&P. "We are calling out to not just those who cruise but to all modern luxury travelers. The fact is, Celebrity offers a superior modern luxury experience, and we have to break the usual category conventions to serve that up to discerning vacationers."

Socially, consumers will be invited to share their vacation stories on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest using #celebritycruises. Best-in-class social media experiences will feature engaging and innovative content by way of both paid and organic media as well as static mosaics and carousels on Instagram, promoted tweets on Twitter, and dynamic product ads on Facebook.

The campaign builds on a series of creatively presented hallmarks of a Celebrity vacation including award-winning dining, extraordinary accommodations and service, rich destination experiences, plus more, while travelling to all seven continents in modern luxury style.

Harmony Of The Seas Introduces All-New Entertainment Lineup
Royal Caribbean International's newest and hottest ship yet, Harmony of the Seas – sailing to Europe's most popular destinations in the Western Mediterranean, beginning May 2016 – is setting the stage for an entertainment ensemble unlike anything ever seen before in one place. The innovative global cruise line is pulling back the curtain on the unexpected entertainment offerings that come together onboard Harmony of the Seas – from the hot summer nights of Broadway's hit musical Grease, to high-tech, high-definition ice shows in Studio B and jaw-dropping, high-flying, immersive performances at the oceanfront AquaTheater, and, for the first time, Puzzle Break, an interactive, problem-solving group activity, is in a dedicated, fully-produced space, fit for a Hollywood studio where guests are challenged to Escape the Rubicon, and so much more.

Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, will span 16 guest decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,497 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms."We are taking entertainment to the next level on Harmony of the Seas with more captivating, immersive entertainment experiences than ever before," said Nick Weir, Vice President, Entertainment, Royal Caribbean International. "The level of innovation that has gone into our latest lineup is truly mind blowing, and Harmony guests can expect the unexpected with our biggest, most awe-inspiring stage yet."

Royal Caribbean International's newest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas that debuts in May 2016, will premiere original aqua show "The Fine Line." The high-energy, adrenaline-pumping performance in the AquaTheater will have guests at the edge of their seats, witnessing high-flying feats, mind blowing stunts and physically demanding acrobatics.

Royal Caribbean International's newest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas that debuts in May 2016, will premiere original aqua show "The Fine...

The Biggest Curtain Call Yet - The main theater onboard Harmony of the Seas, the Royal Theater, is a spectacular, state-of-the-art space that enlists 21st century technology to create a performance environment that supersedes traditional theaters. Seating 1,380 guests, the Royal Theater is home to two headline shows presented by Royal Caribbean Productions:


• Columbus, The Musical! – an original Royal Caribbean production created in the spirit of "Spamalot" and "Something Rotten," the story recounts the imagined history of Marvin Columbus, Christopher's fictional, down on his luck, distant cousin. Banished from his family's kingdom, Marvin sets sail on a madcap voyage of discovery in the hopes of claiming his own place in history. Unforeseen romance and a "happily ever after" story are on the map as Marvin Columbus crashes into his Caribbean destiny. A breathtaking and revolutionary set design, transporting the audience across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, will awe the entire family and adults will thoroughly enjoy the smart, nuanced humor.
• Grease – the all-new, never-before-seen stage production, specially adapted by Royal Caribbean Productions, will boast original choreography, costumes and aerial elements set to amaze the most seasoned theater goers. Featuring a soundtrack of crowd favorites such as "Summer Nights," "Greased Lightnin'," "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," "Born to Hand-Jive," "Beauty School Dropout" and more, guests will follow the romantic twists and turns of Sandy and Danny as they navigate the tricky social waters of Rydell High School while keeping their reputations – and relationship – together. AquaTheater Reaches New Heights

 The Fine Line. The high-energy, adrenaline-pumping performance in the AquaTheaterThe theatrical possibilities of the AquaTheater, the distinct high diving, acrobatic performance space introduced by Royal Caribbean with the Oasis class of ships, are pushed to breathtaking new limits onboard Harmony of the Seas. New aerial capabilities will elevate the thrilling entertainment repertoire, creating an all-encompassing theatrical experience where the audience will witness heart-stopping balancing tricks on the highline and aerial maneuvers by acro-artists allowing them to dip into the audience and catapult back to the stage. Two 10-meter high platforms and the hydraulic-floored pool, the largest and deepest freshwater pool at sea, below will serve as podiums for high-diving, hair-raising aerobatics that AquaTheater audiences have come to love. The signature venue will boast the caliber of shows only presented on a Royal Caribbean stage, where innovations intermingle with emotions to defy the imagination. New AquaTheater shows include:


• The Fine Line – a journey from extreme to extraordinary, The Fine Line is the AquaTheater redefined with high-flying feats, mind blowing stunts and physically demanding acrobatics brought to life by the world's best extreme-sport athletes. Designed as a 360 degree immersive entertainment show, revelers will be wishing for eyes in the back of their head to take in all the action happening around them.
• Hideaway Heist – a dive into hilarious escapades, guests will steal some laughs and experience amazing wows with Royal Caribbean's new comedy dive show, Hideaway Heist. This action packed comedy aqua show jumps into the world of a swanky 1950's holiday resort where guys 'n' dolls take the audience on a frolicking escapade in, on and around the pool as an undercover detective, playing the part of a high-rolling vacationer, pursues a crafty burglar. Guests can expect plenty of family-friendly fun and awe-inspiring performance tricks as the staff of the Hideaway Resort solve the crime of a century.

A Futuristic Spin on the Ice - Ice shows leap into the future on Harmony of the Seas, where world-class skaters perform extraordinary skills as stunning multimedia visuals, audio and state-of-the-art technology provide a sight and sound theatrical extravaganza. Guests will watch as the surface of the ice rink in Studio B transforms before their very eyes, creating a backdrop of ultra-high definition video, which blends fantasy with reality. The result is a dazzling new canvas on which incredible artists demonstrate their unbelievable skills. New Studio B performances include:


• 1887 – an original Royal Caribbean production about love and adventure that begins in Paris on February 14, 1887 at the height of the career of Jules Verne, renowned author of timeless adventure novels such as "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1864), "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" (1870), and "Around the World in Eighty Days" (1873). Beginning their journey on the frozen River Seine, Juliet and her mysterious time traveling companion, the Tempus, travel in multiple dimensions to discover the wonders of the world, and of the heart. World-class skaters and striking technology combine in a unique way that is guaranteed to leave audiences both breathless and emotionally touched.
• iSkate Showcase – a Studio B ice show unlike any other where Royal Caribbean's talented skaters put their best blade forward in a dazzling showcase of their very best moves set to their own favorite tunes. The cast goes rogue and anything can happen! Fan Favorites Hit a High Note

On Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean favorites are back and better than ever, including:


• Puzzle Break: Escape the Rubicon – a puzzle that transports players to another world and another time where they must ESCAPE! Players will collaborate with friends, old and new, as they attempt to find the hidden clues needed to solve a collection of puzzles that will eventually unravel the mystery of the Rubicon. With only 60 minutes of life-support, the suspense builds with every tick of the clock. For the first time, this remarkably popular activity will take place in a dedicated space designed in partnership with ShowFX Inc., a staple for Hollywood studios' engineering, design and fabrication of custom entertainment equipment.
• Red Party – the hottest high-energy party at sea. With DJs, surprise performances, special effects and technology, this all out nightlife extravaganza is an experience not to be missed.
• Stowaway Piano – the pop-up piano player, which originally debuted on Anthem of the Seas, heads to Harmony. Behind the door. Around the corner. In the elevator. By the pool. Guests never know where the Stowaway Piano will turn up next.

The Royal Promenade Returns - On the Royal Promenade, Harmony of the Seas continues the tradition of Royal Caribbean's signature theme nights and parades with:


• Totally Awesome 90s – Harmony of the Seas debuts the evolution of Royal Caribbean's much-loved Promenade 70s Party as the clock is pushed forward to the 90s. Guests can party it up in a new era when soundtracks are dominated by teen pop, dance-pop and the growing popularity of hip hop. A live DJ spinning favorite 90s hits, live pop-up performances and crazy neon track suits set the stage to transport partygoers back to this totally awesome decade.
• Let's Celebrate! – when on a cruise, vacationers really don't need an excuse to celebrate, but Royal Caribbean is giving guests one anyway with Let's Celebrate! – the ultimate celebration of celebrations. Halloween, Birthdays, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Fourth of July and New Year's Eve will all be celebrated at once, in a wild and crazy parade that's truly unforgettable.

Guests on Harmony of the Seas also can belt out tunes at the On Air Club, revel in a symphony of brass brilliance with the High Cs Horns, Harmony's very own horn-led, nine piece orchestra, and take in live comedy and music at Harmony's brand new nighttime hotspot, The Attic.

Carnival Corporation's New Sustainability Report Highlights Key Environmental and Social Initiatives
Carnival Corporation & plc released its 2014 Sustainability Report in December detailing the company's sustainability efforts across its 10 cruise line brands, including its 2020 sustainability goals. The sustainability report was prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 "core" level, and a full copy can be downloaded from Carnival Corporation's site.

Carnival Corporation's New Sustainability Report Highlights Key Environmental and Social Initiatives"As the largest cruise company in the world, with healthy oceans and seas core to our operations and with most of our employees living and working at sea, the very essence of our business is built on sustainable and transparent practices," said Bill Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation. "Our goal is to make sure our 11 million annual guests have a great vacation experience, and to maintain a positive and thriving workplace for our employees. We maintain this commitment by keeping our guests and crew members safe, providing extraordinary customer service, protecting the environment in which we work and live, hiring great employees passionate about their work, having positive relationships with our suppliers and other stakeholders, enhancing the port communities our ships visit and the communities where we work, and maintaining our fiscal strength. These core values are among the cornerstones to our success as a business."

Sustainability Goals
As highlighted in the report, Carnival Corporation has established 10 goals for reducing its environmental footprint over the next five years, while enhancing the health, safety and security of its guests and crewmembers, and ensuring sustainable business practices among its brands, business partners and suppliers. Three of the 10 goals focus on developing, deploying and operating exhaust gas cleaning systems for clean air emissions, increasing cold ironing capacity and further reducing the intensity of equivalent carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e). View Carnival Corporation's 2020 sustainability goals infographic here.

Carnival Corporation announced in November 2014 that it had met its corporate goal to reduce its rate of CO2e emissions from shipboard operations by 20 percent – a year ahead of its initial plan. After meeting its initial goal a year ahead of schedule, Carnival Corporation has renewed its goal to continue reducing the rate of CO2e emissions – also known as greenhouse gas emissions -- by 25 percent from its 2005 baseline.

This renewed goal for 2020 extends and reinforces the company's aggressive initiative to further reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the effort, the company and its 10 global brands have developed strategic energy reduction and conservation initiatives, many of which exceed current laws and regulations.

Sustainable Practices Highlighted in Report
Recently the company announced its four next-generation cruise ships to be built for Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises will be the first in the industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel. Pioneering a new era in the use of low carbon fuels, these new ships will use LNG to generate 100 percent of the ship's power both in port and on the open sea – an innovation that will significantly reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support overall sustainability initiatives.

In 2014, the company released its Business Partner Code of Conduct and Ethics to help business partners within the supply chain to more fully understand and comply with Carnival Corporation's expectation for legal compliance and ethical behavior. This includes the areas of labor and human rights, environmental protection, business integrity and health, safety and security.

In June 2014, the Carnival Foundation donated $2.5 million over a five-year period to The Nature Conservancy, one of the world's leading conservation organizations, to advance the preservation of the world's oceans and seas. Carnival Corporation's support to The Nature Conservancy will significantly accelerate coral reef restoration initiatives, enhance the value of marine ecosystem services through the Mapping Ocean Wealth program and continue to advance important science that shows how natural systems can help reduce risks to coastal communities from storms and rising sea levels.

In June 2015, the company introduced Fathom, a new brand pioneering a new travel category called impact travel, which is built around mindful, purpose-driven activities and programs that enable guests to make a real sustainable impact in the communities to which the company travels. In 2016, Fathom will make its maiden voyages to two vibrant Caribbean destinations - Cuba and the Dominican Republic - each with different cultures and each with different objectives, but both with common dreams for the well-being of their people.

Additional Sustainable Initiatives
In addition to these initiatives, Carnival Corporation and its 10 brands implement extensive measures to deliver on the corporate commitment to continue to keep guests and crewmembers safe and comfortable, protect the environment, develop and provide opportunities for its workforce, strengthen its stakeholder relations and enhance the communities in which the company visits and operates. These efforts are detailed in the 2014 sustainability report – highlights include:


• Spotlighting Carnival Corporation & plc Board Member Debra Kelly-Ennis for her leadership and board membership since 2012.
• Designing and developing an industry-first Maritime Security Training Program in the Philippines in 2013 and 2014. The program was launched in January 2015. Corporate Security standards require all new security guards to attend the certified training program prior to joining a company ship.
• Focusing on hiring and retaining a team of diverse, highly motivated and engaged employees, a key factor in delivering vacation experiences that exceed guests' expectations. The company placed a number of executives into new roles during the year, including five brand presidents and several executive operations and staff roles.
• Taking more than 10.6 million guests on vacation across 100 ships in 2014. Over 3.4 million of them were first-time cruisers.

Age of Discovery: A Unique Collaboration between Cunard, The Savoy, and Jack Daniel’s
Three of the world’s most highly acclaimed brands, renowned for their traditions of service and excellence, are embarking on a unique collaboration that circumnavigates the globe. This January (2016), Cunard, The Savoy and Jack Daniel’s will produce Age of Discovery – a specially created, barrel aged, limited edition cocktail.

Age of Discovery: A Unique Collaboration between Cunard, The Savoy, and Jack Daniel’sThe cocktail itself will mature in a hand chosen 300 litre, Jack Daniel’s barrel to be taken on board Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2 during her 41,000 nautical mile, four-month World Voyage - departing from Southampton on January 10, 2016.

Age of Discovery has been formulated by the team at the world-famous Savoy Beaufort Bar, named Best International Hotel Bar 2015. Inspired and influenced by the tastes and aromas of the continents Queen Mary 2 will visit, from Europe to Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania, the Jack Daniel’s cocktail will be mixed at The Savoy before the barrel is sealed and bonded for its World Voyage.

The Age Of Discovery cocktail features a blend of Savoy Select Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 and Bacardi 8, with Spice Trail Madeira, Dubonnet, Martini Riserva Rubino and Earl Grey and Cocoa nib bitters.

Painstaking attention to detail and refinement has gone into the choice of ingredients. The cocktail itself has been crafted to reflect both Cunard’s 175-year ocean-going heritage and the decades of history and patronage associated with The Savoy’s famous cocktail bars. Its home for the voyage, a Jack Daniel’s first fill American oak barrel, was carefully chosen by The Savoy’s Assistant Food and Beverage Director, Daniel Baernreuther.

Daniel travelled to the Jack Daniel distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee and personally chose the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel to be used in Age of Discovery. Daniel then had the barrel itself transported whole to The Savoy in London. This is the very same barrel that will play host to Age of Discovery for its global journey.

During her four month circumnavigation, Queen Mary 2 will visit 39 ports of call in 27 countries. The barrel will be secured in open deck space for the duration of the voyage to expose it to the varied elements and climates that will influence the final result. Prevailing temperatures, humidity and sunlight – as well as more inclement conditions - will combine to produce this truly unique barrel-aged cocktail.

The progress of Age of Discovery will be charted via social media throughout the passage, across the oceans, and will appear in the world’s most iconic ports and cities. The barrel will also have its own unique Log Book.

When Queen Mary 2 returns to Southampton on May 10, 2016, the barrel will be ceremoniously unloaded and will travel to the specially-commissioned Houston Bottling & Co Pack plant in West Dunbartonshire.

It is estimated that the unique barrel will yield a minimum of 250 litres of Age of Discovery, which will become the latest in The Savoy Collection; one of the world's most prestigious and unique collections of one-of-a-kind spirits and liquids. Launched in 2013, The Savoy Collection was created with the support of esteemed cocktail experts, Speciality Drinks, to celebrate the rare and the beautiful from the world of drinks.

Created by the talented team at The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar, the Age Of Discovery cocktail has been designed to represent the diverse areas through which it will travel on board the Queen Mary 2 and takes its inspiration from the thrilling era of naval exploration between the 15th and 18th centuries. The un-aged cocktail will be available at the Beaufort Bar from Sunday, January 10, 2016.

“Cunard is proud to partner with The Savoy in creating Age of Discovery,” said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. “Both Cunard and The Savoy are distinguished luxury brands that are renowned for the rich experiences and service that we both provide for our guests. We are also delighted to offer the unique opportunity for our guests to sample a non-aged version of this cocktail on board Queen Mary 2as we continue to inspire and captivate individuals worldwide in the adventure and excitement of a Cunard World Voyage.

HAL Partners with Master Mixologist to Create Menu of Unique Libations
Whether you like your drinks on the rocks, straight up, shaken or stirred, Holland America Line's new partnership with 2015 James Beard Who's Who Inductee and Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff brings an innovative menu of creative cocktails to the premium cruise line. DeGroff's creations will debut aboard ms Eurodam this month and will expand fleetwide by springtime.

HAL Partners with Master Mixologist to Create Menu of Unique LibationsContinuing Holland America Line's commitment to offer an exceptional food and beverage experience, DeGroff — known as "King Cocktail," author of two best-selling cocktail books and founding president of The Museum of the American Cocktail — has developed a drink menu to showcase artfully prepared signature classics as well as some unique originals.

"For many guests, there's nothing better than relaxing with a well-made, unique cocktail after a long day of sightseeing or before dinner, and adding a master mixologist to our team gives us the diversity we seek in creating the most robust food and beverage program at sea," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "We're excited to welcome the talents of Dale DeGroff to our family, and we know our guests are going to enjoy his innovative creations."

DeGroff's signature cocktails will be served in the Gallery Bar, introduced on ms Eurodam following a December 2015 drydock, and in other shipboard bars and lounges, including Ocean Bar, Explorer's Lounge, Crow's Nest and Tamarind Bar, as well as more casual outlets such as the Lido pool bar. His creations will be served fleetwide by spring 2016.

DeGroff's cocktail menu includes the Gallery Gimlet, Hemingway Daiquiri, Yuzu Margarita, The Ritz Cocktail, Whiskey and Joe, Another Shade of Greyhound, and a "Slightly Less Than Perfect" Perfect Manhattan. Many of these drinks have a storied past. The Hemingway Daiquiri is a unique spin off of Hemingway's favorite drink, the Papa Doble. The Ritz Cocktail is a dazzling champagne cocktail presented with a burst of flamed orange peel and was one of the most popular drinks at the legendary Rainbow Room where DeGroff created it as a tribute to the Ritz cocktails of Paris and Madrid.

In addition to creating exclusive cocktails for all Holland America Line bars, DeGroff also will oversee staff training to ensure his signature cocktails will be crafted to perfection.

DeGroff developed skills, techniques and expertise while tending bar for three decades at various notable establishments including New York's famous Rainbow Room. He has received the James Beard Award for Wine & Spirits, was inducted into the prestigious James Beard Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America in 2015 and is author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He is a partner in the award-winning Beverage Alcohol Resource bar-training program and founding president of the Museum of the American Cocktail. DeGroff also produces his own Dale DeGroff's Aromatic Bitters brand, which he developed with renowned absinthe distiller Ted Breaux.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.94 - 0.48%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 93.60 - 4.63%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.55 - 1.16%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 56.00 - 3.43%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
In 1973 CY Tung's Orient Overseas Line purchased 2 American passenger ships - what were their old and new names?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which French Line ship struck a reef and caught fire off the coast of Mustique in the Caribbean? As recently as the early 1990's her broken hull was still visible on the reef.

Answer - On January 8, 1971 with 650 souls aboard French Line's Antilles became grounded on an uncharted reef at Mustique Island. In an attempt to free the ship the Master ordered fuel to be dumped overboard. Bad idea. This caused a fire in the engine room which spread to the restaurant. The passengers scattered to local islands by lifeboats and liferafts. The QE2 came to the rescue of the passengers plucking 510 from Mustique Island alone. Two days later a merchant ship found 85 crew members adrift in a lifeboat. There was no loss of life in the incident.
courtesy of Robert Stanley, Pelzer, SC


Cruise News - January 4, 2016

Carnival Corporation to Launch Four New Ships in 2016
Carnival Corporation will launch four new ships in 2016 across four of its global cruise brands. These additions are part of the 17 ships scheduled for delivery for Carnival Corporation's 10 brands through 2020, creating measured capacity growth over time that enables the company's global fleet to meet accelerating demand for cruise vacations in every region of the world.

"As we execute our fleet enhancement plan -- which includes a long-term strategy for bringing highly efficient, state-of-the-art ships to market and elevating the overall cruise experience, we are excited about seeing these new ships come to life this year," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "With each new ship we introduce, we generate new levels of excitement it creates for our guests and the industry. It also supports our goal to provide the best possible vacation experience at a value that land-based vacations cannot match. In the end, with our existing and new ships, our focus is for our guests to come away from a cruise vacation having had a great time and looking forward to going on another cruise."

Donald added: "We also remain focused on managing our fleet capacity in a responsible way by delivering and refurbishing ships that are innovative and efficient, while we phase out some of our existing ships – all designed to reinvigorate the options available to travelers looking to explore the more than 700 destinations we visit around the world."

The four new ships scheduled to join Carnival Corporation's industry-leading fleet of 99 ships in 2016 include:

Holland America Line: ms Koningsdam – Official delivery date expected in April 2016Holland America Line: ms Koningsdam – Official delivery date expected in April 2016
Currently under construction at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard in Italy, the 99,500 gross ton Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line and it is being designed by famed hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany and Architect and Designer Bjørn Storbraaten. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy fine dining in several alternative restaurants, including Sel de Mer, a new French seafood brasserie; a new immersive farm-to-table dinner experience in the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine; a re-designed casual Lido Market with themed serving stations; a stunning main dining room; and favorites such as Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto Italian restaurant and pan-Asian Tamarind. The ship also will feature Holland America Line's first purpose-built staterooms for families, in addition to single staterooms that together make up spacious accommodations for the ship's 2,650 guests. Onboard entertainment will be taken to a new level with the energetic Music Walk area featuring all genres of music showcased in venues including Lincoln Center Stage, offering chamber music nightly; Billboard Onboard, where live musicians rock the crowd with chart-topping hits; and the popular B.B. King's Blues Club in the Queen's Lounge, bringing the best of Memphis music to sea. World Stage brings 270-degree LED projection to the main show lounge, enabling new concepts for show-time performances and immersing the audience in panoramic visual and sound effects.

Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival Vista – Official delivery expected in April 2016
From a unique suspended cycling experience called SkyRide and the innovative Family Harbor staterooms and suites featuring a "family concierge" to cruising's first IMAX Theater and the line's first on-board brewery, Carnival Vista promises fun for guests of all ages. The largest ship in the Carnival fleet, Carnival Vista will measure 133,500 tons, 1,055 feet long and have a guest capacity of 3,954. Carnival Vista is scheduled to enter service on May 1, 2016, initially sailing from Europe. After repositioning to New York for a series of voyages in November 2016, Carnival Vista will reposition to Miami to launch year-round Caribbean service later that month.

AIDA Cruises: AIDAprima – Official delivery date expected in April 2016
AIDAprima will be the newest flagship for AIDA Cruises, with 1,643 cabins at 124,100 gross tons. In addition to being one of the most technologically advanced vessels in the world, it will join its fleet as the most environmentally friendly cruise ship in the world. A new air lubrication system will pump bubbles below the waterline, reducing friction and lowering fuel consumption by allowing the ship to ride on a cushion of air. Ship features include "The Beach Club" – a transparent dome providing a place for guests to hang out by the pool regardless of weather – a water slide, high ropes course and the new AIDA Mini Club, which will provide childcare for kids six months and up.

Seabourn: Seabourn Encore – Official delivery date expected in December 2016
Seabourn Encore, fashioned by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, will feature contemporary interiors and modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. Seabourn Encore will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. The 40,350-gross ton ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service by close to one staff member for each guest on board.

In December, Carnival Corporation announced that it has signed a memo of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build four new cruise ships with final contracts expected to be executed in 2016. Two of the four new ships will be built for Costa Asia for deployment in China, and one will be built each for P&O Cruises Australia and Princess Cruises.

Additionally, in 2015 Carnival announced the finalization of a contract with Meyer Werft to build four next-generation cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the world. The ships will be manufactured for Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises, and they will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) -- the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel.

With these new agreements, Carnival Corporation has 17 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2016 and 2020.

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils "Feel Free" Brand Campaign
Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed the company's new global brand campaign, "Feel Free." Rooted in the line's fundamentals of freedom & flexibility, Feel Free is an invitation for guests to experience Norwegian's philosophy of what a vacation should be, free from rigid schedules with the freedom to make their vacation their own.

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils The integrated campaign, launched January 4, is inclusive of national television spots, online video, digital units, and various social media activations. One social media initiative encourages usage of the campaign's #FeelFree hashtag by asking consumers to share their New Year's resolutions for a chance to win a 7-day cruise with Norwegian. The high-energy campaign conveys the brand's passion for delivering outstanding vacation experiences and showcases Norwegian's fun-loving, bold personality. It further provides an opportunity to speak to guests in new markets via new formats, including various social platforms. The new campaign was created and developed with partner agencies BBDO Atlanta and OMD.

"The concept of ‘Feel Free' transcends the idea of traditional cruising and speaks to the experience that is uniquely offered and delivered aboard Norwegian ships: our promise that guests should be free to vacation on their terms," said Meg Lee, Norwegian Cruise Line's senior vice-president and chief marketing officer.

The launch of "Feel Free" works hand-in-hand to communicate Norwegian's new promotional offer Free at Sea. Norwegian's Free at Sea promotional offer allows guests to choose from four free offers: free unlimited beverages, free specialty dining, free shore excursions or free wifi, delivering a very high value for their vacation dollar.

Lindblad Expeditions To Acquire Via Australis
Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: LIND; "Lindblad", the "Company"), the global leader of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement for the purchase of the Via Australis to be used in its operations in the Galapagos Islands. The Company expects to take possession of the ship in the second quarter of 2016 and following a significant renovation will deploy the ship during the third quarter of 2016. The Via Australis will replace the National Geographic Endeavour. The purchase price for the ship is $18 million and Lindblad plans to spend up to $10 million to refurbish and outfit the ship immediately after closing.

Lindblad Expeditions To Acquire Via Australis"The Via Australis will be the ideal platform for our Galapagos expeditions far into the future. Opportunities to acquire high quality expedition ships on attractive terms are infrequent so we seized this one," said Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad. "The Via Australis will provide us with increased profitability on the same route through more operating days, revenue enhancement opportunities, operating efficiencies and cost savings compared to the National Geographic Endeavour. Additionally, it will require significantly lower capital expenditures for the foreseeable future."

"The most important elements of a Galapagos experience are the islands, the animals and the sea that surrounds them, so the ship that provides access to these things matters greatly," Lindblad added. "The Via Australis is ultra-efficient to operate and was built with the same sensibility that matters so much to us, with a focus on the world outside. To that end, she has great viewing from all public spaces. Her ability to launch and deploy landing craft is fast and seamless. She is exceptionally quiet and maneuverable, a great asset when approaching marine life. And I'm particularly pleased that this ship will be well received by our crew who work very hard and are critical to expedition success."

The Via Australis will be renamed bearing the National Geographic name. After refurbishment, some key features of the Via Australis:


• 50 cabins: 46 double cabins and 4 single cabins. Maximum capacity of 96 guests.
• As the primary focus is the world outside, all public spaces are designed for maximum viewing with quick, easy access to decks to respond to bridge announcements of phenomenal sightings of nature and wildlife.
• An open and ample top deck provides an unparalleled location for gathering, dining, relaxing and stargazing.
• A spacious main lounge and a forward-viewing additional lounge with large windows and immediate access to the outer decks provide guests many comfortable options to relax, read or view the wildlife and scenery.
• A fleet of Zodiacs and sea kayaks outfitted to transport guests easily into the wild, remote places being explored. The efficient Zodiac loading platform can deploy two landing crafts at the same time in order to safely and swiftly put guests ashore, in the water, or on a cruise through the surrounding landscapes
• A fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa.
• State-of-the-art A/V system for the highest quality presentations, including National Geographic photography instruction.
• Well-appointed and improved crew quarters.

Oceanwide Expeditions Announces New Departures to the Ross Sea in Antarctica
After successful exploration runs in 2013 and 2015 the Dutch polar cruise company Oceanwide Expeditions has announced two new expeditions to the Ross Sea in 2017. The ice-strengthened vessel “Ortelius” will be accommodated with helicopters for the two Antarctica cruises, sailing from the South-American continent to the Antarctic Peninsula, crossing the Polar Circle, further west to Peter I Island, sailing in the Bellingshausen sea along the ice-edge of “deep Antarctica” into the Ross Sea. The voyage continues to the uninhabited sub-Antarctic Campbell Island and ends after 32 days in New Zealand. The second cruise offers the same itinerary, but in reverse.

Dutch polar cruise company Oceanwide Expeditions has announced two new expeditions to the Ross Sea in 2017The Ross Sea region of Antarctica has always presented a dream but also a challenge to visit to explorers. The Ross Ice Shelf prevents a full seasonal operation and distances are enormous. Apart from the extremes, landing sites are still difficult to reach. “With the advantages of the “Ortelius” in combination with the use of helicopters, our travelers are having some great opportunities exploring Antarctica’s most fascinating sites”, says CEO Michel van Gessel.

British Polar explorer Sir James Clark Ross discovered the Ross Sea region in 1841. It took another 60 years before the true race to the South Pole began when the British Royal Geographic Society sent Robert Falcon Scott on his voyage in 1901, followed by Ernest Shackleton (1907-09), Japanese explorer Nobu Shirase (1910-12), and another attempt of Scott and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen who reached the pole in 1911. Many of the relics (such as the huts of Scott and Shackleton) of this golden period of exploration still exist, preserved by the cold, ready to be visited by modern-day explorers.

Very few expeditions have ever ventured this far south to the Ross Sea. Oceanwide Expeditions tries to land passengers in such areas as the rarely visited volcanic Peter I Island, the huts of the British explorers Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott on Ross Island, McMurdo Station, the Dry Valleys – where the conditions are the closest you get to the conditions on Mars - and Campbell Island, home to the Southern Royal Albatrosses.

The voyage contains one of the last wildernesses on earth, hardly affected and visited by humans. Passengers will experience the largest ice-formations in Antarctica and will encounter an astonishing diversity of life despite its incredibly harsh conditions. The Ross Sea is home to minke whales, orca’s, weddell and crabeater seals, adelie and emperor penguins, petrels and skuas.

Paul Gauguin Cruises Announces 2017 Voyages
Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of m/s Paul Gauguin, announces 2017 voyages that feature popular favorites along with new, exotic 16- and 17-night Fiji & Bali itineraries and a collaborative program with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Paul Gauguin Cruises Announces 2017 VoyagesThe 16-night Fiji to Bali voyage departs April 29, 2017, from Lautoka, Fiji, and visits Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu; Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands; Samarai Island, Papua New Guinea; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Merauke, Indonesia; Dili, Timor-Leste; Komodo Island, Indonesia; Lembar, Lombok Island, Indonesia; and Benoa, Bali, Indonesia. The reverse itinerary, Bali to Fiji, is 17 nights and departs June 7, 2017.

In 2017, The Gauguin will also be showcasing its most sought-after itineraries: the 7-night Tahiti & the Society Islands; 7-night Tahiti, the Society Islands & Tuamotus; 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus; 11-night Cook Islands & Society Islands; and 14-night Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands. Also in 2017, the popular 12- and 13-night Society Islands, Cook Islands, Tonga & Fiji itineraries return. In addition to sailing to beautiful islands in the South Pacific, and showcasing Polynesian culture and hospitality, these voyages feature complimentary access to Paul Gauguin Cruises' two exclusive retreats—Motu Mahana, an islet off the coast of Taha'a, and a private beach in Bora Bora. At Motu Mahana, guests enjoy a day of watersports, Polynesian activities, a barbecue feast, and cocktails from full-service and floating bars. In Bora Bora, guests can relax on a white-sand beach and enjoy refreshments, a game of volleyball, and snorkeling in crystal-clear waters.

On The Gauguin's July 26, 2017, voyage, Paul Gauguin Cruises will present its third Reunion Cruise, which features a special 10-night Cook Islands & Society Islands itinerary with two visits to the line's private island paradise of Motu Mahana. Designed as a reunion for past guests of Paul Gauguin Cruises and as a gala welcome for newcomers, it presents a number of unique special events, including a festive dinner, cocktail and block parties, opportunities to mingle with senior staff and crew, and more.

Paul Gauguin Cruises is also pleased to announce a new global collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). WCS has been committed to saving wildlife and wild places worldwide since 1895. Beginning in 2017, WCS will offer educational programming for adults and families aboard The Gauguin. Our series will comprise lectures about marine science and wildlife conservation in the South Pacific and beyond. Additionally during the summer months and holiday season, WCS will inspire guests to value nature through our experiential family program. WCS aims to protect half of the world's biodiversity, while ensuring a positive impact on millions of people. Paul Gauguin Cruises is proud to collaborate with WCS in support of a healthy and sustainable planet.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 54.20 + 0.02%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 98.14 - 2.17%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.58 - 1.53%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 57.99 - 0.05%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which French Line ship struck a reef and caught fire off the coast of Mustique in the Caribbean? As recently as the early 1990's her broken hull was still visible on the reef.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Between the time she left Cunard's service in 1968 and her arrival in Hong Kong in 1971, the Queen Elizabeth spent time in what is now one of the most popular ports in North America. Where was she laid up during this time?

Answer - The Queen Elizabeth was docked at Port Everglades, Florida and open to the public until it was declared a fire hazard.
courtesy of Rich C. The Villages, Florida.


Cruise News - December 28, 2015

Carnival Corporation Signs Four Ship Deal with Fincantieri
Carnival Corporation & plc today announced that it has signed a memo of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build four new cruise ships with final contracts expected to be executed in 2016. Two of the four new ships will be built for Costa Asia for deployment in China, and one will be built each for P&O Cruises Australia and Princess Cruises. With the new agreement, Carnival Corporation has 17 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2016 and 2020.

Carnival Corporation Signs Four Ship Deal with FincantieriThe four new ships will be built by one of the world's largest cruise ship building companies, Fincantieri, at the company's shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera, Italy, with deliveries expected in 2019 and 2020. The two new 135,500-ton ships for Costa Asia and one new ship for P&O Cruises Australia will carry 4,200 passengers.

Additionally, Princess Cruises' new 143,700-ton ship will carry 3,560 passengers and will be its fourth "Royal Princess" class vessel, featuring the successful design platform used on Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess scheduled for delivery in 2017. Each of the four new ships will be specifically designed and developed for the brand and guests it will serve, and support the company's overall goal of providing exceptional vacation experiences for its guests.

"We will deliver on our fleet enhancement plan with the construction of these four new, exciting ships that are consistent with our long-term strategy of measured capacity growth over time," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "These ships will be great additions to our fleet that support our goal to exceed guest expectations and create great vacation memories for each guest onboard our ships. These strategic investments in new ships that wow our guests are an important part of our measured growth strategy, which includes replacing less efficient ships with newer, larger and more efficient vessels over a very specific period of time."

"The signing of this agreement happens during a real and beyond all expectations boom of the cruise sector," said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "This announcement confirms - once again - the effectiveness of our strategy: with these projects we ensure continuity and development for our company, and we also further strengthen our already consolidated partnership with the Carnival group."

The new Costa Cruises Asia ships will prominently feature the brand's "Italy's finest" experience, with the new ship design serving to enhance the overall onboard immersion Italy's unique style, hospitality, entertainment and culinary excellence. The new ship order will also strengthen Costa Asia's leadership and position in the region, as well as its commitment and confidence to continuously develop Asia Pacific and China to be one of the leading cruise markets in the world. In the past nine years, Costa Asia has created a multitude of industry firsts and has been widely recognized as the industry leader in the region, including being named as the first-ever Asia Best Cruise Line in the Asia Cruise Awards this year.

The new P&O Cruises Australia ship will join the leading cruise line's fleet that was recently expanded with the addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden in November 2015 and will reach six total with the introduction of Pacific Explorer in 2017 to meet growing demand for cruises in Australia. Australia is one of the top performing cruise markets in the world, with an average annual passenger growth rate of 20 percent over the past decade. The new 4,200-passenger ship will have the largest passenger capacity from the line, with the next largest ship, Pacific Explorer, carrying 2,250 passengers, and will continue the brand's tradition of innovative ships that reflect modern Australia.

The new Princess Cruises ship will include the signature elements that have become synonymous with the Princess guest experience such as a soaring central atrium hub with multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues; Movies Under the Stars outdoor cinema experience, and 80 percent of all staterooms with balconies. The ship will also include some brand-new innovations to enhance the guest experience even further.

In March 2015 Carnival entered into a strategic partnership with Fincantieri under which these four ships have been developed. Specific features and amenities for the ships, along with deployment details, will be revealed in the coming months.

Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas Heads to Miami for Short Caribbean Getaways
Royal Caribbean International brings short Caribbean getaways to a whole new level when the newly-enhanced Empress of the Seas returns to the fleet in March 2016. Following a stint with sister brand Pullmantur, Empress will head to Miami giving guests the chance to get away from it all and enjoy a lively, casual, laid-back atmosphere while visiting some of the Caribbean’s most popular islands.

Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas Heads to Miami for Short Caribbean GetawaysGuests can languish over daily ‘Sunday’ brunches served with a complimentary mimosa or Bloody Mary, enjoy the flexible “My Time Dining” with no formal nights, take in the new Las Vegas-style “Sequins & Feathers” show and then party all night long in the newly reimagined Boleros Latin Lounge. Empress of the Seas also will offer fast pier-to-ship boarding with earlier boarding times of 11:00 a.m. to help guests maximize their vacation time even further.

“We’re excited to welcome Empress of the Seas back to the family, and back to the Caribbean,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Empress’s short Caribbean getaways will give adventure-seekers the opportunity to party, chill and repeat. They will feel like it’s the weekend every day on Empress.”

As Miami’s newest hometown ship, Empress of the Seas will offer short 4- and 5-night getaways from Miami to Nassau, The Bahamas; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman and Key West, Florida. With longer stays in every port guests will be able to experience spectacular golden sunsets in the Caribbean. Plus, on select 5-night itineraries guest can experience the authentic Mexican culture and cuisine during overnight stays in Cozumel, Mexico. Reservations are available for booking today.

“Miami welcomes Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas to the Cruise Capital of the World,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “We thank Royal Caribbean for expanding their cruise business at PortMiami. This new deployment further demonstrates the cruise line’s commitment to growing their business in Miami-Dade County. It represents continued economic growth and more job opportunities for our world-class community.”

Empress of the Seas will offer signature amenities including a thrilling rock-climbing wall for adrenaline seekers; new pools and whirlpools, including an adults-only Solarium; a spa with an extensive treatment menu; and a complimentary Adventure Ocean youth program. Empress also will offer a variety of dining options, including the casual atmosphere of the Windjammer Café and fine dining at the brand’s signature steakhouse Chops Grille. In addition, the ship will offer Voom, the fastest internet at sea.

Originally launched as Nordic Empress in June 1990, the ship was the first to set sail from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey in 2004. Built in Chantiers de L’Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France, the ship spans nine decks, encompassing 48,563 gross registered tons, and has a double-occupancy capacity of 1,602 guests.

HAL Details Inaugural Season of Newbuild in Second ‘Countdown to Koningsdam’ Video
Holland America Line debuted its second “Countdown to Koningsdam” video on its website with details about the ship’s inaugural season Europe and Caribbean itineraries. The video series was created to share product and construction updates as anticipation builds for ms Koningsdam delivery in April 2016.

HAL Details Inaugural Season of Newbuild in Second ‘Countdown to Koningsdam’ VideoHosted by Jonathan Rogers, Koningsdam’s inaugural cruise director, the second video, “Countdown to Koningsdam Episode 2,” features Holland America Line’s Vice President Deployment and Tour Marketing Linda Springmann talking about the ship’s inaugural year itineraries. Springmann details Koningsdam’s cruises in the Mediterranean, northern Europe and Caribbean, offering itinerary highlights and fun facts about the ship’s maiden sailing season.

“Fans keep asking for more Koningsdam details, and these short videos are a great way for us to communicate the latest updates and provide a glimpse into the ship’s progress,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “The newest video outlines the inaugural season itineraries which have been very popular. So for those interested in sailing on Koningsdam next year, we recommend booking now.”

Each “Countdown to Koningsdam” video features one of the ship’s officers or a Holland America Line executive who shares ongoing developments onboard the line’s newest vessel, currently being built at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy.

“Countdown to Koningsdam Episode 1” featured Hotel Director Stan Kuppens, who showed off the progress of ship’s atrium, spoke about his move to the yard and what’s coming next for his team. Future videos include Deputy Director of Interior Operations My Nguyen chatting about the ship’s staterooms, including the new family and single options; Senior Vice President of Guest Experience Product Development Michael Smith, who will reveal details about The Dining Room; Director, Mariner Society Gerald Bernhoft speaking about the perks of Holland America Line’s loyalty program; and Director of Entertainment Bill Prince, who takes guests on an entertainment extravaganza at World Stage, the ship’s theater that surrounds the audience with a 270-degree LED projection.

Cunard Announces Herbie Hancock to Headline “Jazz at Sea” Transatlantic Crossing
Hailed as one of the greatest jazz musicians in modern history, Herbie Hancock will headline the latest in a series of Cunard Blue Note jazz at sea-themed Transatlantic Crossings on board Queen Mary 2 in 2016.

Herbie Hancock will headline the latest in a series of Cunard Blue Note jazz at sea-themed Transatlantic CrossingsThe multi Grammy Award winning star will perform three, 45-minute intimate shows in The Royal Court Theatre on board Queen Mary 2’s 8-night crossing from Southampton to New York on August 1-9, 2016.

“Some members of my band sailed on the first Queen Mary 2 Blue Note voyage in November this year and had an amazing time,” said Hancock. “I am really looking forward to sailing across the Atlantic on such an iconic ship and sharing some great music with everyone on board."

Herbie’s career spans over five decades, writing the very first jazz album ever to go platinum and winning 14 Grammy® Awards, including Album of the Year for River: The Joni Letters. Miles Davis, one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century once described Herbie as, “the step after Bud Powell and TheIonious Monk, and I haven't heard anybody yet who has come after him."

During the westbound Transatlantic Crossing Herbie will be joined by band members, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist James Genus and guitarist Lionel Loueke.

“It is such a privilege to welcome one of the greatest jazz musicians on board our flagship Queen Mary 2 as part of Cunard’s partnership with Blue Note Records and Blue Note Jazz Clubs,” said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. “Having Herbie on board will be a pinnacle entertainment experience for our guests and for our company.”

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 54.19 + 0.46%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 100.32 + 1.27%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.62 + 3.15%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 58.02 - 1.73%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Between the time she left Cunard's service in 1968 and her arrival in Hong Kong in 1971, the Queen Elizabeth spent time in what is now one of the most popular ports in North America. Where was she laid up during this time?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which cruise ship sported two names (her official name and her marketing name) on her hull as she sailed the Caribbean and elsewhere during the mid-1990s?

Answer - The ship was the Seawind Crown (marketing name) / Vasco da Gama (registered name).
courtesy of Armand Mantia.


Cruise News - December 21, 2015

Crystal Esprit Christened in the Seychelles
Crystal Cruises officially welcomed Crystal Esprit to its fleet of vessels Sunday, as the yacht was christened in an elegant ceremony held at Eden Island Marina in Mahé, Victoria, Seychelles. Crystal’s president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez, welcomed a distinguished audience of local dignitaries, yacht guests, travel partners and professionals and executives from the line’s new parent company, Genting Hong Kong (GHK), for a day of celebration, as Crystal Esprit marks the beginning of one of the most significant brand expansions in luxury travel and hospitality history.

Crystal Esprit Christened in the SeychellesOn hand to christen Crystal Esprit was the yacht’s godmother, Lady Gaenor Anne Meakes, fiancée of Mark Richards, one of the world’s most awarded and recognized yachtsmen. Richards serves as chief executive of Grand Banks yachts, based in Australia, and is an eight-time champion skipper of the 628-mile Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race. Lady Meakes christened the yacht with the traditional breaking of Champagne against the hull – specifically a bottle of Louis Roederer, Cristal Brut, 2004. The evening culminated with an elaborate fireworks display at sea.

“To say today is a special day is an understatement,” said Rodriguez. “Since joining Crystal just over two years ago, a personal goal of mine has been to see Crystal realize the next step in continuing to pioneer luxury travel and hospitality; and today I am seeing that dream fulfilled.” She went on to personally thank GHK Chairman and CEO, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, for his and his company’s support of her vision for Crystal’s future.

Crystal will, indeed, pioneer the luxury travel and hospitality industry far beyond the reaches of ocean cruising, as the line is poised to launch Crystal River Cruises in 2016 and 2017, with five luxury river yachts – more than double the originally planned number – gracing the waterways of Europe include the Rhine, Seine, Danube, Main, Garonne, and Dordogne Rivers. Crystal Luxury Air will take off with all-first-class outfitted Boeing 777-200LR and Boeing 787 Dreamliner taking guests on multi-week journeys to far-off destinations not typically served non-stop by major airlines.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports A 40% Increase In Full Year Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced adjusted net income for the full year 2015 of $2.1 billion, or $2.70 diluted EPS, compared to $1.5 billion, or $1.93 diluted EPS, for the prior year. Full year 2015 U.S. GAAP net income was $1.8 billion, or $2.26 diluted EPS, which included unrealized losses (non-cash) on fuel derivatives of $332 million and other net charges of $17 million. Full year 2014 U.S. GAAP net income was $1.2 billion, or $1.56 diluted EPS, which included unrealized losses (non-cash) on fuel derivatives of $268 million and other net charges of $20 million. Revenues for the full year 2015 were $15.7 billion compared to $15.9 billion for the prior year due to the unfavorable impact from currency exchange rates of over $800 million.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports A 40% Increase In Full Year EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "We nearly doubled our fourth quarter results and ended the year with 40 percent higher earnings. Strong operational execution delivered $0.25 per share higher earnings than the mid-point of our full year 2015 December guidance, despite a $0.10 drag from the net impact of currency and fuel prices. This year we achieved a 4.3 percent improvement (constant currency) in revenue yields compared to the prior year due to higher onboard revenues and increased ticket prices as we have driven demand in excess of capacity growth, while our ongoing efforts to leverage our industry-leading scale helped to contain costs. Our strong performance led to record operating cash flow of well over $4 billion versus $3.4 billion last year," Donald stated.

Key metrics for the fourth quarter 2015 compared to the prior year were as follows:


• Net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 4.1 percent in constant currency, which was better than the company's September guidance, up 3 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 2.5 percent in current dollars due to changes in currency exchange rates.
• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 3.2 percent in constant currency, which was in line with September guidance, up 3 percent. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD decreased 10.7 percent in current dollars.
• Fuel prices declined 46 percent to $316 per metric ton for 4Q 2015 from $584 per metric ton in 4Q 2014 and were better than September guidance of $366 per metric ton.
• Changes in currency exchange rates reduced earnings by $0.08 per share.
• Adjusted net income was $389 million, or $0.50 diluted EPS, before U.S. GAAP unrealized losses (non-cash) on fuel derivatives of $117 million, or $0.15 diluted EPS. U.S. GAAP net income was $270 million, or $0.35 diluted EPS.
• The company repurchased approximately 8 million shares under its $1 billion stock repurchase program.

Highlights during the fourth quarter included the grand opening of Amber Cove, a new Carnival Corporation cruise facility on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, and the launch of P&O Cruises (Australia's) Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, which have been impeccably appointed to suit Australian guests. In October, Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises announced they will each enter the China market in 2017 with a second Carnival Cruise Line ship to be positioned there in 2018. In 2016, there is already a combined fleet of six ships from the Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises brands scheduled to operate in China. Also, Princess Cruises will introduce the Majestic Princess to the Chinese market in 2017. That ship is currently under construction and will be the first vessel built specifically for Chinese guests incorporating a unique blend of international and Chinese features. Carnival Corporation also recently announced the formation of a joint venture with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation and the China Investment Corporation aimed at accelerating the development and growth of the overall cruise industry in China including the planned launch of the first world-class, multi-ship domestic cruise brand in the Chinese market. These latest developments further strengthen the company's leading position in China, which is expected to, over time, surpass North America as the world's largest cruising region.

2016 Outlook
At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the first three quarters of 2016 are well ahead of the prior year at slightly higher constant currency prices. Since September, booking volumes for the first three quarters of 2016 are in line with last year's levels at higher prices.

Donald noted, "As we had anticipated, with less inventory remaining for sale, we have begun to sell at higher prices than the same time last year, particularly close to departure, affirming our expectation of continued yield improvement in 2016."

Based on current booking trends, Carnival said that it forecasts full year 2016 net revenue yields in constant currency to be up approximately 3 percent compared to the prior year, of which approximately 1 percent is due to an accounting reclassification for the Europe, Australia and Asia segment. The company expects net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD in constant currency for full year 2016 to be up approximately 2 percent, of which approximately 1.5 percent is also due to the reclassification. The reclassification has no impact on operating income.

Current currency exchange rates and fuel prices, net of fuel derivatives, are $0.22 per share favorable compared to the prior year. Taking the above factors into consideration, the company forecasts full year 2016 adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $3.10 to $3.40, compared to 2015 adjusted earnings of $2.70 per share.

Looking forward, Donald stated, "We have accelerated progress toward and remain well positioned to achieve our double digit return on invested capital threshold in the next two to three years. Over time, we expect to continue to return excess cash to shareholders as demonstrated by our recent 20 percent increase in quarterly dividends and more than $400 million in share repurchases."

Donald also noted that four new ships are scheduled to enter service for Carnival Corporation brands in 2016. Holland America Line's Koningsdam and AIDAprima will debut in April, Carnival Vista will enter service in May, and Seabourn Encore in December. Each vessel has a wide variety of exciting and innovative new features that will generate consumer buzz for those brands.

First Quarter 2016 Outlook
First quarter constant currency net revenue yields are expected to be up 3.5 to 4.5 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the first quarter are expected to be 2.5 to 3.5 percent higher in constant currency compared to the prior year. Based on the above factors, the company expects adjusted earnings for the first quarter 2016 to be in the range of $0.28 to $0.32 per share, compared to 2015 adjusted earnings of $0.20 per share.

MSC Cruises To Create Exclusive Bahamian Marine Reserve Island
MSC Cruises, the Geneva-based global cruise line has unveiled plans to create an exclusive marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas.

The visionary project was officially launched yesterday afternoon (December 16) in the Bahamian capital Nassau, where Prime Minister Perry Christie and MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago signed a 100-year lease agreement that will enable MSC Cruises to occupy and develop the island to be called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

MSC Cruises To Create Exclusive Bahamian Marine Reserve IslandOver the next two years, MSC Cruises will work hand-in-hand with the Bahamian Government and ecologists to develop the cay, a onetime sand extraction station, into a thriving marine reserve that will harmoniously coexist with the local ecosystem. This is a project that will transform the local economy base from resource exploitation to resource conservation.

In keeping with the company's commitment to providing absolutely authentic cruise vacations, the island will offer some of the finest beaches in the world, amid an array of Caribbean-inspired experiences.

The family that owns MSC Cruises has more than 300 years of seafaring heritage, which has engendered a deep respect for the ocean that underpins the company's operations today. MSC Cruises is committed to protecting the waters it navigates. As one of the most ecologically conscious cruise lines in the world, the company will invest approximately $200 million in creating a flourishing natural haven from a desert island.

MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago commented: "This is a natural progression for our company, which is growing very rapidly, and we are thrilled about providing this totally new experience for our guests in the Caribbean."

"Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and its exclusive offerings will be a magnificent extension of our shipboard experiences. We ensure every decision we make keeps each of our ships true to the promise of our brand, offering the authenticity and quality our guests expect. This is what made us the leading brand in many of the markets we operate, including across Europe, South America and South Africa. We will apply the same thinking and attention to detail to our Caribbean offering, of which this exclusive marine reserve will become a cornerstone, because we know our guests will be amazed by this industry-unique experience."

At 95-acres in size and with 11,400 feet of pristine beach front spread across six distinct beaches, Ocean Cay Marine Reserve will be – by a large margin – the biggest island development by any cruise company in the Caribbean. In addition, as the only marine reserve island experience, it will offer a multitude of key distinguishing features.

For example, a purpose-built berth and pier right on the seafront means that MSC Cruises guests will be able to step off the ship straight onto the island. Since a unique part of their visit will be the island's night life in particular live music and entertainment at the 2,000-seat amphitheatre, and many restaurants and bars, guests moving at leisure between ship and island will be especially convenient. In addition, the ship and all on board services – including the casino – will stay open while berthed at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

All installations and experiences on the island, which lies 20 miles (32 km) south of Bimini and just 65 miles (104.5 km) east of Miami, Florida, will be fully sympathetic to the culture and traditions of the Bahamas. A comprehensive landscaping plan will see more than 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs, such as Jamaica Dogwood, Red, Black and White Mangroves, and Beach Morning Glory, expertly planted across the island. There will be an architecturally faithful Bahamian village, plentiful restaurants and bars offering local specialities, a variety of shops and an inviting arrival center with island-themed music gazebo.

For MSC Yacht Club guests, an exclusive spa and wellness sanctuary with private bungalows and massage huts has been designated to the northwest corner of the island.

Also, getting around the island will be a breeze, thanks to a network of walking and running paths, bicycle rentals and other stress-free transport options.

Other highlights such as must-have water sports and beach games include:


• family beach with kids' restaurant, play areas and other useful facilities
• charming inland lagoon for absolute tranquillity
• thrilling zip wire crossing the island
• pavilion for weddings and celebrations MSC Cruises plans to break ground on the development in March 2016 and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will open to guests in December 2017.

The Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve project will offer a permanent MSC Cruises presence in the Bahamas, for which the company plans to recruit 240 Bahamians in various roles over 2016 and 2017.

Fathom Announces Top Recreational Activities in the Dominican Republic
Fathom, the pioneer in social impact travel and Carnival Corporation's 10th and newest brand, announced today a line-up of fun and memorable recreation, leisure and sightseeing activities available to Fathom travelers to experience in the Dominican Republic when not participating in social impact projects. Whether exploring ancient ruins, interacting with the abundant marine life in the crystal clear water, lounging along the sun-soaked stretches of surf and sand, or participating in social impact activities, travelers will have the opportunity to make the most of their experiences in the Dominican Republic.

Fathom Announces Top Recreational Activities in the Dominican RepublicFathom travelers visiting the Dominican Republic can customize their trip to include a variety of unforgettable recreational activities and social impact experiences – including projects focused on educational, environmental and economic development – that perfectly match their interests and desired activity levels. In addition, travelers who prefer to break from scheduled activities during their stay may simply relax and enjoy the island's rugged mystical terrain and fertile valleys, its breathtaking turquoise waters, enchanting waterfalls and tropical rainforests, as well as its predictable weather and scenic beauty.

"At Fathom we are creating purpose-driven impact experiences for our travelers that will make a lasting difference in the lives and the communities in the in the Dominican Republic," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. "While at the same time, we want our travelers to know there also are many opportunities for them to explore, unwind and recharge during their free time."

Top recreational activities recommended for Fathom travelers include:


• Traditions and Local Flavors – Puerto Plata is home to the first fort built by European settlers in the New World and is one of the many scenic areas on the island. Travelers can explore the city's historical features and shop in the bustling downtown area, which boasts numerous artist studios, rum and cigar factories, and the famed Malecon, a three-mile-long open air beach-side boardwalk with numerous restaurants and shops.
• Fathom travelers can also stroll through the historical city and visit the San Felipe Fortress, Cathedral San Felipe, Vrugal rum factory, Plaza Independencia and other museum attractions.
• La Isabela, Columbus History and Folklore – The historic town of La Isabela, one of the first European towns in the Americas, gives travelers the opportunity go back in time and walk through nearby ancient ruins to learn about the history of the island and its first inhabitants.
• Beginner Scuba Diving – The country's ample marine life and warm waters make it a prime location for those curious to explore the island's lush underwater world. Whether swimming alongside sea turtles and schools of colorful fish or exploring world-class reefs, a beginner scuba diving course will introduce travelers to the basic safety guidelines required to do a dive with an instructor.
• Two-Reef Snorkel by Catamaran – A day onboard a modern and luxurious Catamaran is the perfect way to discover the beauty of Sosua Bay. Calm waters, diverse species of fish and intricate reef formations make this a great place to put on the flippers and go for dip.
• Countryside Zipline Adventure – Crisscross from platform to platform soaring through the treetops to gain a new perspective on the Dominican Republic and its breathtaking views from the island canopy.

Fathom's MV Adonia will dock at the recently opened Amber Cove located in the Puerto Plata region where travelers will have access to select Amber Cove shore excursions. The port will offer numerous sea and landside experiences, including several beach getaways, kayak, paddle board and snorkeling tours, ATV-like terracross buggy expeditions, Puerto Plata tours, helicopter rides, fishing trips, horseback riding, deep sea fishing tours and catamaran sailings.

Carnival Corporation Announces Timeline for Sourcing 100% Cage-Free Eggs
Carnival Corporation Announces Timeline for Sourcing 100% Cage-Free EggsCarnival Corporation & plc, working with The Humane Society of the United States, announced that it will switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs across all of its brands by 2025. This announcement is the latest step in Carnival Corporation's years-long work to address animal welfare in its supply chain.

Carnival Corporation—the world's largest travel and leisure company—includes 10 global cruise line brands including Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Holland America Line, Cunard, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, P&O UK and P&O Australia, as well as its newest brand, Fathom, dedicated to social impact travel.

"Carnival Corporation and our brands recognize animal welfare is an important issue for our guests, and addressing it is part of our ongoing commitment to how we operate," said Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer with Carnival Corporation. "We have been working with our suppliers in this area, and look forward to continuing our efforts as we work towards our goal of 100 percent cage-free eggs."

Matthew Prescott, senior food policy director for HSUS, said, "Carnival Corporation is the world's largest cruise company and has shown real leadership on animal welfare over the years. We welcome the company's commitment to source 100 percent cage-free eggs."

Crystal Launches New 'All Exclusive' Brand Campaign
Aboard the newly christened Crystal Esprit, Crystal Cruises' ultra-luxury yacht, CEO and President Edie Rodriguez unveiled to special guests and distinguished travel partners the line's new brand campaign – All Exclusive™ – heralding the debut of the new Crystal as the company embarks on the most significant brand expansion in luxury travel and hospitality.

Crystal Launches New All Exclusive Brand CampaignIn addition to sharing Crystal's new advertising campaign, Rodriguez announced the company's plan to expand Crystal Luxury Air that currently includes a Boeing 777-200LR and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with the addition of two ultra-long-range aircrafts in an elegant ACJ319 jet and a Bombardier Global Express XRS. The new planes will service private charters and transport guests to their Crystal destinations for ocean, river or yacht voyages from any point in the United States to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

A play on the all inclusive platform the line adopted in 2013, which offers travelers a world-class luxury vacation that includes fine wines and spirits, pre-paid gratuities and enriching onboard experiences, Crystal's All Exclusive™ embodies the world's most luxurious travel portfolio. The campaign highlights a revolutionary collection of experiences that go far beyond all inclusive luxury to offer the most elegant journeys around the globe – by ocean, yacht, river and air.

"In a single phrase, 'All Exclusive' takes the common industry term of 'all inclusive' and reshapes it into something bigger, bolder and unprecedented, where all inclusive is all exclusive," said Rodriguez. "Since my arrival at Crystal, it has been my vision to grow this brand into something even more magical. Today, we are reinventing travel in a class all by itself, and All Exclusive is the perfect representation of that. Whether it is by ocean, river or air, everything we do is designed to take our guests to a new level of luxury, service and adventure."

Crystal's private charter jet service, which takes flight in March 2016, will provide the luxury line's superior guest service, catering to corporate executives, small groups and discerning travelers with a preference for flexible and individual travel. Recognized in the private jet industry as the epitome of luxury and comfort, the Bombardier Global Express XRS will feature a spacious two-cabin configuration, accommodating up to 13 guests, four executive wide club seats with foldout tables, a four-place conference space opposite a single seat workstation and cabinet, laptop imagery on cabin monitors, surround sound, high temperature oven and an aft entertainment cabin with a 31.5 inch LCD.

The ACJ319 jet will accommodate just 30 travelers in the utmost luxury, including 16 lay-flat seats, and beginning summer 2016 it will transport guests to their desired Crystal destination, including to ocean, river and yacht voyages.

"With our vast choice of aircrafts, we are confident Crystal Luxury Air will deliver the fast and hassle-free requirements our guests and discerning travelers have been wanting with global air travel," said Rodriguez.

The comprehensive, 360-degree brand campaign roll-out will encompass all elements of Crystal's marketing and sales – advertising, brochures, website, direct mail and more. Leveraging high-end, stunning and stylish photography to evoke the feelings and sensations unique to the award-winning Crystal Experience, the imagery portrays a dreamlike state where imaginations are brought to life, where anything you want in travel is available to you, any time, all the time, creating the memories of a lifetime.

Carnival Cruise Line Builds World's Largest Cruise Ship Made Of Canned Food
Carnival Cruise Line capped off a Holiday Food & Fund drive in New Orleans benefiting the Second Harvest Food Bank by constructing the world's largest cruise ship made of canned food which was displayed on Monday night at the New Orleans Saints game.

Carnival Cruise Line Builds World's Largest Cruise Ship Made Of Canned FoodCarnival is the "Official Cruise Line of the New Orleans Saints" and the 30-foot-long cruise ship built from more than 17,000 cans of food was the culmination of a Holiday Food & Fund drive involving New Orleans-area schools that was sponsored by Carnival and the NFL franchise.

The can structure was built in consultation with the New Orleans chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and required more than 100 volunteers who expertly positioned the cans – one at a time – to create a reproduction of a Carnival cruise ship featuring such design elements as the line's signature winged funnel, running lights and more.

Both Carnival and the New Orleans Saints provided incentives to students in New Orleans-area schools to participate in the food drive by awarding classroom prizes including free pizza parties, Saints lithograph footballs and free cruises to schools who collected the most cans of food. The winning schools were announced during half-time at the game. The joint initiative will provide more than 75,000 meals for those in need in the greater New Orleans area this holiday season.

"Carnival has been a part of New Orleans for more than two decades and we greatly value the opportunity to give back to our homeport communities," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "This Holiday Food & Fund drive in partnership with the New Orleans Saints and Second Harvest was a fun and rewarding way to provide tens of thousands of meals to those in need this holiday season," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president.

"We are so proud to have worked with Carnival Cruise Line and Second Harvest on the successful build of the largest cruise ship made out of cans, but even more excited about the amount of food donations made through the build and the food drives at local schools that will help fight hunger throughout this holiday season," said Jean-Paul Dardenne, New Orleans Saints' senior vice president of corporate partnerships. "Carnival Cruise Line demonstrated their leadership and dedication throughout this project and we are proud to continue to work together to make a difference in the New Orleans community."

Added Natalie Jayroe, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, "We are so thankful for the wonderful opportunity with Carnival, the New Orleans Saints and AIA to team up with us to lead the fight against hunger in Southern Louisiana by providing incentives for schools to participate in our Holiday Food & Fund Drive. Our work together ensures that meals make it to the dinner tables of thousands of families struggling with hunger."

Carnival's Holiday Food & Fund drive is just the latest example of the cruise line's support of the New Orleans community. Carnival is New Orleans' largest cruise operator with two year-round ships carrying 400,000 passengers annually. The line will expand capacity on its short cruise program from New Orleans by 34 percent with the deployment of the Carnival Triumph in spring 2016

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.94 + 6.20%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 99.06 + 7.36%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.54 + 3.67%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 59.04 - 0.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship sported two names (her official name and her marketing name) on her hull as she sailed the Caribbean and elsewhere during the mid-1990s?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the last cruise ship completed for the Home Lines and what happened to her?

Answer - She was the Homeric. The 3rd (and last) ship built to order for Home Line. Today she is known as Thomson Dream.
courtesy of Robert Wilson, Ft. Lauderdale.


Cruise News - December 14, 2015

Royal Caribbean Reveals The Ultimate Abyss, Tallest Slide at Sea
Royal Caribbean Reveals The Ultimate Abyss, Tallest Slide at SeaRoyal Caribbean International today reveals the highly-anticipated first look of The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide on the high seas, which will intimidate the bravest of guests and challenge them to prove their courage from onboard Harmony of the Seas when she debuts in May 2016.

Towering more than 150 feet above sea level, overlooking the AquaTheater at the aft of the ship, the pair of side-by-side slides will release adrenalin-seeking travelers into a chilling 100 foot drop that twists and turns in a serpentine-like movement as they slide nine miles an hour, approximately, from the Pool and Sports Zone on Deck 16 to the Boardwalk on Deck 6 below.

The Ultimate Abyss is designed to incite and maintain a sense of heart-pumping anticipation. Launching onto the ride from a glass platform, guests can take one last look at the Boardwalk 10 decks below before climbing onto a customized mat and taking the plunge into the depths of the daunting slides. Spontaneous audio effects within each tunnel create a multi-sensory thrill for daring guests willing to test their mettle while traversing 216 feet through the one-of-a-kind slide duo. The Ultimate Abyss is made up of two separate cylinders, a reflection of one-another, each with a diameter of approximately 2.6 feet and constructed of stainless steel.

Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, will span 16 guest decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,497 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean's exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.

Crystal Serenity 2017 Voyages Reposition To North & South America
Crystal Cruises announced today that it will reposition one of its luxury ocean vessels in 2017, unveiling an entirely new lineup of itineraries. Following the 2017 "Southern Celebración" World Cruise round-trip from Miami, Crystal Serenity will sail throughout North America for the remainder of the year, offering routes along the east and west coasts, through Alaska, New England and Eastern Canada, as well as the eastern seaboard into the Caribbean. Historically, Crystal Serenity has spent the majority of her 12 years at sea cruising the Mediterranean, Western Europe and the Black Sea but the line's tremendous expansion plans afforded an opportunity for change.

Crystal Serenity 2017 Voyages Reposition To North & South America"The Mediterranean and surrounding regions have long been favorite destinations for our guests, and will continue to be, with the launch of Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal River Cruises," says Crystal's president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez. "These new ventures allow us to expand our offerings for our guests, so they can continue to experience their favorite Crystal vacations in new ways."

Crystal Serenity's new roster of ultra-luxury cruises includes a repositioning voyage from Miami to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal; convenient seven-day explorations of California's coastline; a 14-day intensive Mexico itinerary; a 16-day route through the Hawaiian Islands; seven-, 9- and 10-day cruises through the ports and glaciers of Alaska and British Columbia; seven- and 10-day itineraries through the charming ports of New England and Eastern Canada; and warm-weather fall and winter cruises along the Southern East Coast into the Caribbean.

Crystal's newest vessel, luxury yacht Crystal Esprit, as well as its upcoming five luxury river yachts, will focus primarily in the waters of the Mediterranean region nearly year-round. Crystal Esprit will sail to and from long favored cities such as Venice, Dubrovnik and Athens, with calls to lesser explored gems only accessible by yacht. Likewise, the river yachts will grace the waterways of Europe include the Rhine, Seine, Danube, Main, Garonne, and Dordogne Rivers, visiting charming ports throughout Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Hungary, and others.

Crystal Esprit's Collection of Water Toys Revealed
When Crystal's luxury yacht, Crystal Esprit, embarks on her maiden voyage next week, guests will be ushered into the new era of Crystal Cruises: one of new destinations and new ways to get there, one that caters to those passionately curious about the world and actively seeking adventure. While the yacht will sail to destinations throughout the Seychelles, Cosmopolitan Emirates, and Mediterranean that are most coveted for their outdoor opportunities and appeal to explorers of all persuasions, the vessel itself is outfitted for adventure, so luxury travelers need not limit themselves to what's available shore-side.

Crystal Esprit is outfitted with some decidedly extreme features, like a two-passenger submarineWhether guests are seeking underwater adventures, high-speed adrenaline-inducing experiences or physically challenging and athletic pursuits, they need look no further than Crystal Esprit's retractable marina. Tucked sleekly inside this extravagant yacht is an arsenal of water toys, beckoning Crystal guests – discerning travelers who seek unexpected, uncommon and truly memorable experiences – to come and play.

Crystal Esprit is outfitted with some decidedly extreme features, like a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs for special excursions and a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot super yacht tender for special boating adventures. Additionally, at their guests' fingertips are water skis, wake boards, kayaks, jet skis, and fishing/scuba/snorkel equipment.

Crystal Cruises will be celebrating 25 years of sailing in 2015 with multiple theme cruises bringing back former Crystal captains, as well as current... Water skis, a wakeboard, two types of ocean kayaks (do you fancy a tandem paddle or some solitude?); Skidoo jet skis, two 10-person zodiacs, contained in-ocean pool...plus, fishing and snorkel equipment at the ready – all for complimentary use on a first come, first served basis. For those ready to dive deeper, literally, a C Explorer U Boat Submarine will be available for subaquatic quests. Offering approximately 30-minute expeditions for $599 per person, the sub seats two guests and the vessel's operator, creating an especially exclusive atmosphere. Additionally, a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot super yacht tender will take guests on special boating adventures.

Of course, Crystal Esprit will also offer a boatload (pardon the pun) of Crystal Adventures ashore that highlight the natural wonders and opportunities for intrepid travelers in each locale. Zip lining in the Seychelles, culinary tours throughout Greece and acrobatic flights aboard a stunt plane in Croatia are all on the menu. Additionally, the yacht will offer bicycles for guests' use if they choose to explore independently ashore. With the launch of its first new vessel in 12 years – the first of several new experiences planned over the next three years – Crystal has made every effort to ensure that possibilities and choices are all but endless.

For the world's most awarded luxury cruise line – a company lauded for over two decades for its superior standard of excellence and sophistication – it's clear that luxury extends beyond the six-star cuisine, all-penthouse accommodations, plush amenities and wishes granted at every turn. Luxury reaches as far as the imaginations of travelers who seek it, and for some, the fun begins in the Crystal Esprit marina.

Silversea Details Two Grand Voyages Set to Circle South America in 2017
For discerning world travelers, there's no better way to explore South America than aboard one of ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises' Grand Voyages scheduled to circumnavigate the continent in 2017.

Silversea Details Two Grand Voyages Set to Circle South America in 2017Stretching from the steaming Amazon to the bone-dry Atacama Desert and the glacial peaks of the Andes, South America is a land of stunning extremes -- the world's highest waterfall, the world's longest mountain range, the world's driest desert, and the world's largest rainforest. And now the luxury cruise guests of Silversea may discover its dramatic diversity while sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale aboard one of two bespoke voyages: a 63-day Silver Spirit cruise departing on January 16, and a 66-day cruise aboard the line's newest ship, Silver Muse, departing on October 13.

Designed for the traveler who relishes a more leisurely pace, these "Circle South America" odysseys combine the luxury of sailing aboard an intimate, elegant ship with the excitement of discovering South America's most captivating ports, unique cultures, and breathtaking scenery. Highlights include a crossing of the Panama Canal, two days cruising Chile's majestic fjords, a two or three-day stopover in Rio de Janeiro, plus multi-day calls in Buenos Aires and Callao (gateway to Lima and Machu Picchu).

On the Grand Voyages, full-voyage guests will enjoy an array of exclusive benefits:


• $2,000 Onboard Spending Credit (per double-occupancy suite)
• One exclusive Silversea Experience
• One exclusive shoreside event
• Free Wi-Fi
• Free laundry service plus dry cleaning

"Our 'Circle South America' voyages aboard Silver Spirit and Silver Muse are perfectly suited to the traveler who has the time and passion to indulge in travel on a grand scale," said Kristian Anderson, Silversea's senior vice president and general manager for the Americas. "No matter which one you choose, you'll enjoy an epic voyage of virtually unlimited discoveries."

On these voyages guests will also enjoy ocean-view suites, gourmet cuisine, the personalized service of a butler, and a generous selection of all-inclusive shipboard amenities, including complimentary Champagne, select wines, premium spirits, specialty coffees, bottled water, juices and soft drinks; in-suite bar stocked with guests' preferences; in-suite dining and 24-hour dining service (from a formal dinner ordered from The Restaurant menu and served in-suite, to lighter fare served in attended lounges); lecture and enrichment programs; roundtrip transportation into town (in most ports); onboard gratuities (exclusive of spa treatments), and free Wi-Fi for each guest.

Norwegian Cruise Line Reveals North America, Bahamas and Bermuda Summer 2017 Itineraries
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced its Summer 2017 deployment, featuring an array of exciting itineraries, all featuring Norwegian's signature freedom and flexibility onboard. Whether guests wish to experience the adventure of a lifetime in Alaska; enjoy a relaxing cruise to the pink sands of Bermuda; or sail away to the clear blue waters of the Bahamas, there is a cruise available from convenient ports of departure including New York, Boston and Miami. The new itineraries go on sale on December 22, 2015 for Latitudes Rewards guests and travel partners and on December 23, 2015 for all bookings.

Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jewel, sailing seven-day Glacier Bay and Sawyer Glacier itineraries, respectively, from Seattle"Guests sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line in Summer 2017 can explore the world through a variety of cruises to spectacular destinations, all while enjoying the freedom and flexibility that only a Norwegian cruise can offer," said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and chief operating officer. "Guests can feel free to cruise to the best of Bermuda and the Bahamas on four beautiful ships, including the recently refurbished Norwegian Gem, or experience the scenic beauty of Alaska on some of the youngest ships in the industry."

Alaska
Exploring Alaska by sea will now be more exciting than ever with Norwegian, with a number of itineraries ranging in length from seven to 14 nights. Norwegian will continue to offer the youngest fleet in Alaska, with three ships sailing in the summer of 2017: Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jewel, sailing seven-day Glacier Bay and Sawyer Glacier itineraries, respectively, from Seattle; and Norwegian Sun, sailing seven-day Alaska cruises alternating between Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska.

New for Summer 2017, Norwegian will offer three longer itineraries, giving guests the opportunity to be fully immersed in the beauty and wonder of Alaska. On Norwegian Jewel, guests can choose from a breath-taking eight-day Sawyer Glacier cruise from Vancouver to Seattle on May 5, 2017, featuring port calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Icy Strait Point, Alaska; Victoria, British Columbia; and a cruise past the Sawyer Glacier. Also on Norwegian Jewel, guests can explore the wonder of this majestic state with a ten-day Ultimate Alaska from Seattle to Vancouver on September 23, 2017. This incredible itinerary features the finest the last frontier has to offer, beginning with a cruise through the Inside Passage followed by calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and Sitka, Alaska; Prince Rupert, British Columbia; plus a cruise to Sawyer Glacier and Glacier Bay.

Guests looking for the definitive Alaska cruising experience can opt for a 14-day Ultimate Alaska from San Francisco to Vancouver on Norwegian Sun, departing on May 15, 2017. This itinerary provides guests the chance to experience the best of the forty-ninth state, with port calls in Astoria, Oregon; Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and Sitka, Alaska; Prince Rupert and Nanaimo, British Columbia; and cruises through Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier Sawyer Glacier and the Inside Passage.

Bahamas and Florida
The recently refurbished Norwegian Gem will sail seven-day Bahamas & Florida cruises from New York in 2017, from April 29, 2017 to August 26, 2017. This popular family-friendly itinerary includes visits to Orlando and the Beaches (Port Canaveral), Norwegian's private island Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas. Along with the addition of brand favorites Sugarcane Mojito Bar and O'Sheehans Neighborhood Bar & Grill last year, Norwegian Gem also recently received extensive interior enhancements including upgrades to fabrics, fixtures and carpeting in all specialty restaurants, bars, lounges, staterooms and suites.

For a shorter Bahamas cruise option, Norwegian Sky will offer the freedom and flexibility of the most inclusive contemporary cruise vacation at sea, with three- and four-day cruises to the Bahamas year-round from Miami departing Fridays and Mondays, with free unlimited beer, wine and premium spirits included. Ports of call include: Nassau, Grand Bahama Island, and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island.

Bermuda
Norwegian will continue its tradition of sailing from both New York City and Boston to the pink sand beaches of Bermuda between April and October, 2017. Norwegian Breakaway will sail from New York City to Bermuda on seven-day cruises every Sunday from April 23, 2017 through September 24, 2017. From Boston, Norwegian Dawn will sail seven-day cruises, departing every Friday, from May 5, 2017 through September 15, 2017 as well as on October 20 and 27, 2017.

Canada & New England
Norwegian Gem will again offer two summer Canada & New England roundtrip cruises from New York City in 2017. These seven-day sailings on June 10 and June 24, 2017 call in the iconic ports of Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Bar Harbour and Portland, Maine.

During prime foliage season, Norwegian Gem will also offer alternating seven-day roundtrip cruises from New York City from September 2 to October 14, 2017, visiting four beautiful ports of call: Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Portland, Maine; and Bar Harbour, Maine or Boston, Massachusetts. Sailing from Boston, Norwegian Dawn will offer two seven-day, one-way Canada & New England cruises on September 22 and October 6, 2017, with calls in Portland, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Gaspésie and Saguenay (La Baie), Quebec; ending in Quebec City, Quebec. Norwegian Dawn will also offer two return seven-day cruises from Quebec City to Boston on September 29 and October 13, 2017, with an overnight in Quebec City, followed by calls in the picturesque ports of Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick; and Bar Harbor, Maine.

Princess Cruises Introduces New Princess Luxury Bed
Princess Cruises unveiled today the new Princess Luxury Bed, specially designed to deliver the ultimate night of sleep at sea. Developed in collaboration with experts in both the science and beauty of sleep -- Dr. Michael Breus, “The Sleep Doctor,” and highly acclaimed designer, Candice Olson, star of the hit HGTV shows “Candice Tells All” and “Divine Design” -- Princess is rolling out more than 44,000 new beds, to every stateroom, across the fleet through 2018.

Princess Cruises Introduces New Princess Luxury BedDeveloped exclusively for Princess Cruises by the manufacturer of some of the most well-known and comfortable hotel beds in the world, the new Princess Luxury Bed will envelop guests in opulent style, and pure blissful comfort. The bed features a plush, two-inch thick pillow top, a nine-inch, single-sided medium firm mattress for enhanced support, individually wrapped coils for less partner disturbance, a European-inspired duvet and 100% luxurious Jacquard-woven cotton linens.

A sleep-inspired survey conducted by Wakefield Research confirmed that people yearn for a good night’s sleep both at home and on vacation. More than half of Americans (57%) get less sleep than they need and 59% of Americans frequently struggle to sleep well when on vacation.

“We’re committed to ensuring that our guests come back from their cruise vacation feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and renewed,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises’ president. “With our guests’ overall wellness in mind, we’ve invested in the design and development of our new Princess Luxury Bed with leading experts in both the science of sleep and design to offer the most comfortable and rejuvenating sleep at sea.”

Princess worked closely with board-certified sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, “The Sleep Doctor” and clinical psychologist, bridging his scientific knowledge of sleep with the latest technology in comfort to design the optimal mattress for guests to experience true relaxation. He is the best-selling author of two sleep books and served as the official sleep representative of WebMD and regularly appears on “Dr. Oz.”

“It’s important to remember that above all, sleep is a sensory experience and all five of your senses must be prepared for slumber in order for sleep to come easily and last all night long,” said Dr. Breus. “I’m thrilled to share my expertise with Princess Cruises and believe we’ve come up with some really unique aspects for not just the bed itself, but the entire experience that will allow guests to sleep really well.”

The new Princess Luxury Bed features:


• Luxurious Pillow-Top Mattress – two-inch pillow top offers maximum comfort atop a medium firm, nine-inch single-sided mattress providing superior support.
• Individually Wrapped Coils – reduces sleep-surface sway and motion transfer, resulting in less bed-partner disturbance.
• Circular-Knitted Mattress Ticking – provides increased support for all sleeping positions, conforming to guests’ bodies for greater comfort and deeper sleep.
• Electronically Tempered Springs – enhanced support under compression for all body types.
• Full Foam Casing – provides greater edge support, increasing usable sleep surface.

“As part of the new Princess Luxury Bed I want to ensure Princess guests can experience just how beautiful sleep can feel,” said Olson. “The goal in creating this linen set for Princess Cruises is to create a bed that is calm, and soothing, and tranquil.”

Candice Olson selected various bedding elements to deliver the Princess Luxury Bed, including:


• Fine Bed Linens – constructed from 100% luxurious, long staple cotton and woven on Jacquard looms for the highest quality of production.
• European-Inspired Duvet – with a continuous-filament fiberfill of hypoallergenic, 100% virgin polyester to maximize loft without compromising climate comfort.
• King-sized Down Pillow* – deluxe pillow options (down fill or non-allergenic microfiber)
• *Guests in full suites may select from an expanded Dr. Breus pillow menu.

Additional sleep survey findings include:


• 50% of Americans think they would be happier if they were able to get more sleep.
• More than a third of women (36%) would give up sex for a good night’s sleep while 87% of all respondents sleep better after being intimate.
• Just 53% of Americans know that not getting enough sleep can actually lead to weight gain. According to Dr. Breus, getting a good night sleep aids in weight loss.
• More than half (61%) of respondents would rather get a great night's sleep every night for a month than lose five pounds.

Richard Morse Named SVP of Hotel Operations For Carnival Cruise Line
Richard Morse – an accomplished professional with more than 35 years of experience in the hotel and resort industry – has been named senior vice president of hotel operations for Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line, the world’s largest cruise operator.

Richard Morse Named SVP of Hotel Operations For Carnival Cruise LineIn this capacity, Morse will be responsible for all guest-facing aspects of the Carnival vacation experience, including entertainment, culinary and dining, beverage, housekeeping, and guest services and logistics. He joins Carnival January 11, 2016, reporting to Gus Antorcha, Carnival’s executive vice president of guest shipboard operations.

Prior to joining Carnival, Morse spent 36 years at Marriott International, one of the world’s largest hotel companies, most recently serving as general manager of Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at the National Harbor in Maryland.

In addition to on-property experience, which included management positions at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square and the Renaissance Miami Biscayne properties, Morse served as regional vice president of Renaissance Hotels for the eastern U.S. and area vice president for Marriott’s Select Service and Extended Stay properties in the eastern U.S. Morse earned his bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University.

“Richard is the ideal candidate for this position, possessing extensive experience in all aspects of guest operations, while assembling a talented team for one of the world’s most successful hotel companies,” Antorcha said. “His wide-ranging experience, outstanding management skills and commitment to innovation will be of great benefit as we continue to build upon our leadership position in the cruise industry,” he added.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.79 + 0.24%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 92.27 - 1.47%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.45 + 0.41%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 59.46 + 1.19%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the last cruise ship completed for the Home Lines and what happened to her?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Very few photographs taken on board the Titanic during her fateful maiden voyage survived the ship's sinking. Name the passenger who contributed the largest collection and how did he or she survive the sinking?

Answer - The passenger that took the most photos on the Titanic's maiden voyage was Father Francis Brown. He was onboard the Titanic only to her second port of call, Queens Town (now Cobth), Ireland and therefore was not on the Titanic at the time of the sinking.
courtesy of Monica Graham, Cleveland OH


Cruise News - December 7, 2015

Jewel of the Seas to Receive $30 Million Makeover
Royal Caribbean International today announced that Jewel of the Seas will sail out for the summer 2016 Mediterranean season boasting a new shine and ready to explore the ‘old world.’ The 90,090 gross-registered-ton ship, featuring nearly three acres of exterior glass will receive a complete makeover from bow-to-stern, unveiling a fresh and thoroughly contemporary style.

Sparkling with ocean-facing glass elevators and floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the ship, Jewel’s superior combination of shipboard experience, convenience and value will make it a natural option for family summer travel in Europe, particularly for discovery-driven travelers looking to explore the most coveted isles and cities in and around the Mediterranean. From May through October, Jewel of the Seas will be the only ship in its category sailing round-trip from the marquee city of Rome, Italy on an array of Eastern Mediterranean itineraries.

Jewel of the Seas to Receive $30 Million MakeoverWith new staterooms, new restaurants, technology upgrades and exciting entertainment, Jewel will be the most contemporary ship to sail from Rome this summer. Additions include a two-bedroom family suite and 24 new outside and balcony accommodations that showcase the picturesque coastlines of the Eastern Mediterranean. Giovanni’s Table, Vintages and Izumi, some of Royal Caribbean’s most popular dining venues, will join the diverse menu of dining options. Chops Grille, the spa and retail areas also will be refreshed with a new modern design and in addition a new poolside movie screen will invite guests to nights of animated and classic cinema under the stars. Most exciting for selfie-snapping, hyper-connected travelers is the addition of VOOM, the fastest internet at sea throughout the ship.

Flying round-trip from U.S. gateways to Rome will provide travelers the most competitive airfare options, and the seven-, eight- and nine-night itineraries showcase the best destinations of Italy, Greece and Turkey. She will visit popular ports of call such as Athens and Mykonos in Greece and Ephesus, Turkey as well as a bucket-list favorite Santorini, Greece.

Jewel of the Seas, which is part of Royal Caribbean’s intimately-sized Radiance class of ships, will deliver the ultimate collection of Mediterranean experiences from historical European cities to idyllic island towns – all woven together by the rich life, art and tradition of this cultural cradle – and of course, the active adventures and innovations for which Royal Caribbean is known.

“When the rejuvenated Jewel of the Seas arrives to Rome in April 2016, she will boast a perfect blend of design, amenities, services and technology that modern world travelers expect, while immersing them in some of the most sought-after-cities in the Mediterranean,” said Michael Bayley, president & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “These adventures will appeal to both our loyal, seasoned guests and young, experience-seekers that we are speaking to with our new ‘Come Seek’ campaign.”

Cunard Announces the Launch of the Verandah on Queen Mary 2
Cunard announced this week the launch of the Verandah restaurant onboard its flagship, Queen Mary 2, to open in June 2016 after her significant refit, exactly 80 years after the first Cunard Verandah Grill went to sea on Queen Mary in 1936.

Cunard Announces the Launch of the Verandah on Queen Mary 2The Verandah, a favourite among guests onboard Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, will replace the Todd English restaurant onboard Queen Mary 2 and will evoke the special personality and flavour of French regional cooking with seasonal influences.

Set within light and elegant dining rooms, impeccable service with attention to every detail will make this an unforgettable dining experience, available at a surcharge for lunch and dinner. A bar will be available for pre- and post-meal drinks.

"We are proud to continue the legacy of our earlier ships while adapting for today's discerning luxury traveler," says Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. "Today's Verandah concept will be a must-experience culinary event on every voyage."

The original Verandah Grills were exclusively reserved for First Class guests and were considered the most exclusive dining rooms at sea, on par with esteemed private clubs in London, New York and Paris. The restaurants offered a truly exclusive experience, as well as extra privacy for the rich and famous, including frequent Hollywood stars and royal visitors such as: Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Elizabeth Taylor.

Princess Cruises Reunites "The Love Boat" Cast
It all began on this day 50 years ago with a cruise to Mexico on a single cruise ship, Princess Patricia. Today, Princess Cruises celebrated its 50th anniversary aboard Pacific Princess in the Port of Los Angeles with a special appearance by the original "Love Boat" cast before setting sail on a throwback cruise, recreating the very first itinerary to the iconic Mexican Riviera.

Princess Cruises Reunites Now 50 years later, Princess Cruises is the third largest cruise line in the world with a fleet of 18 cruise ships and a recognized leader in taking 1.7 million travelers each year to some of the most fascinating cruise destinations around the globe.

The original "Love Boat" cast – Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship's doctor), Lauren Tewes (cruise director, Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain's daughter) celebrated the role the show played in Princess Cruises' five-decades-long history introducing the cruise line – and cruise vacations – to millions of people around the world.

The County of Los Angeles and the City of Santa Clarita, the hometown of Princess Cruises world headquarters, also marked the occasion by proclamation declaring December 3 "Princess Cruises Day".

"We've had so much to celebrate this year – from our first-ever float in the iconic Rose Parade on New Year's Day, to our exciting new partnerships with Broadway legend Stephen Schwartz, award-winning chef and restaurateur Curtis Stone and the introduction of our Discovery at Sea program," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Today, it's fitting that 'The Love Boat' cast is here with us to celebrate our 50th anniversary since they played a key role in the success of our company."

The pilot episode of "The Love Boat" was shot aboard the 730-passenger Sun Princess, with Pacific Princess and Island Princess then becoming the primary floating stars of the show. Later episodes and specials were filmed aboard many other Princess cruise ships in destinations around the globe. The show, which aired from 1977 to 1986, went on to become one of the highest-rated and longest-running and beloved shows on television, introducing viewers to modern day cruising and, in the process, making Princess Cruises and its ships synonymous with vacations at sea.

"People always ask us why 'The Love Boat' was so popular and I always say it's because it gave people something to dream about," said Gavin MacLeod. "They could dream about being out on the open seas on a cruise and discovering the world's greatest destinations, dreaming about love and of course happy endings since the shows always ended on a high note. I'm proud to have played a role in the growth of the cruise industry – to see where these ships have come from the days we filmed aboard the original Pacific Princess to now experiencing the 18 magnificent ships in the fleet."

Today more than 30,000 employees both ashore and at sea continue to offer guests enriching vacation experiences by connecting them with each other, different cultures and nature in a brand new way.

"We celebrate our successes over the last 50 years and I know our future is bright as we chart a course for the next 50 years," added Swartz.

Celebrity Cruises Reveals New Sailings, Destinations and Overnights in 2017-2018
Modern luxury cruise brand Celebrity Cruises is introducing its 2017-2018 cruises and has packed in so many of the world's best experiences that vacationers will want to rewrite their bucket lists. The premium line's richest season yet offers many firsts for guests to choose from among 282 destinations in 76 countries that include new ports of call, 236 exciting overnights in 55 cities and 31 double overnight stays in 10 different ports. Today, Celebrity has revealed its new Alaska, Bermuda and Canada/New England cruises, the first series of the "Go Celebrity!" campaign to open for sale. Two ships in this lineup are part of a $16 million refresh initiative, Celebrity Infinity in Alaska and Celebrity Summit in Bermuda and Canada/New England. More destinations will be unveiled this month. Valued Captain’s Club members have early priority access to begin planning their ultimate vacation, three days before the 2017-2018 sailings open to the general public on Friday, Dec. 4.

Celebrity Cruises Reveals New Sailings, Destinations and Overnights in 2017-2018Additionally, beginning in 2016, Celebrity will introduce new, dynamic experiences that bring destinations right onboard before guests even get there, including chef-led shore excursions named "Chef’s Market Discoveries," regional experts, authentic flavors and local entertainment.

Alaska
Celebrity will continue to bring the wonder of Alaska within reach in 2017-2018, with three Celebrity ships – Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Infinity, the last of which has emerged from an $8 million modern luxury refresh with new venues and updated interiors. On these vacations, guests can indulge in:


• Views of Alaska’s magnificent scenery from beautifully designed onboard venues, including The Lawn Club onboard Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Infinity's Rooftop Terrace, a brand-new venue where food and film are fused against a backdrop of chic, comfortable furniture, unique artistic elements, and a large outdoor film screen
• Destination-inspired experiences onboard, from authentic food sourced from each port, to local performances that will thrill guests
• Two new cruisetours that combine cruising with a land tour, for those who want to dive deep into the heart of the Last Frontier: Ten-night "Authentic Tastes of Alaska": A local Alaskan culinary experience, where guests can taste indigenous foods and discover the narrative of their place in Alaskan culture and history
• Twelve-night "Great National Parks Expedition": Guests can explore two national parks – Denali National Park and Kenai Fords National Park – and see the tundra, bays and fjords that are home to the region's array of wildlife
• Exclusive Uniquely Celebrity shore excursions including: a trip to an organic farm, an exploration of the rich history of Skagway, Alaska a tour through a local brewery straight to a cooking school, and participation in a crabbing and seafood feast
• In-depth insights from one of Celebrity’s "Resident Naturalists" – a group of marine biologists, adventurers and wildlife researchers

The premium brand will offer the industry's only seven-night, round-trip itinerary to the Hubbard Glacier from Vancouver on Celebrity Infinity, along with Celebrity's popular, seven-night roundtrip Tracy Arm Fjord itinerary from Seattle, Washington onboard Celebrity Solstice, and a variety of open-jaw options from either Vancouver, British Columbia or Seward, Alaska aboard Celebrity Millennium.

Bermuda
Celebrity will transport guests to a Bermuda state of mind before they arrive at the stunning island, through experiences on Celebrity Summit, which will undergo an $8 million refresh similar to that of Celebrity Infinity, prior to its 2016 Bermuda season. Vacationers can enjoy:


• Bermuda's stunning views at Celebrity Summit's new Rooftop Terrace, which officially will be opened after the ship's modern luxury makeover in 2016:
• Additional enhancements from the refresh will include exquisite upgrades to Suite Class amenities and experiences, and the addition of one of Celebrity's signature venues, Tuscan Grille
• The chance to discover the island's natural wonders with educational programs specially designed by Celebrity's "Regional Destination Expert," marine scientist and author Dr. Ellen Prager
• Celebrity's first-ever, nine-night cruise that visits New England and Bermuda, with the first American female captain of a mega-ton cruise ship, Captain Kate McCue
• A brand-new "Signature Event Sailing" to witness one of the world's most coveted sailing races, where teams go head-to-head for a prestigious trophy
• Authentic onboard entertainment, from a Bermudian steel drum band to cuisine inspired by the local flavors of the Caribbean, all part of Celebrity's onboard experience newly infused with the destination's culture

Thrilling Uniquely Celebrity shore excursions such as: a night on Bermuda's award-winning Rising Sun II catamaran for a festive white party; an immersion into the natural wonders and panoramic seascapes of Bermuda as guests hike the historic Railway Trail; and a tour of Wadson’s Farm, an organic farm that has been operating since 1976 Celebritys seven-night Bermuda cruises, onboard Celebrity Summit, feature three days and two nights in the tropical destination.

Canada/New England
Celebrity is offering an exciting season in Canada and New England – for the first time in the premium brand’s history, vacationers can discover New England and Bermuda on a new nine-night sailing. More destination highlights include:


• The opportunity to experience key moments in time during a new Signature Event Sailing, which welcomes guests to celebrate Canada&'s 150th birthday overnight in Halifax and the USA's Independence Day when overnighting in Boston, Massachusetts
• Sailing with the first American female captain of a mega-ton cruise ship, Captain Kate McCue, aboard Celebrity Summit
• Exciting Uniquely Celebrity shore excursions that grant guests access to an interactive tour through historic Halifax and the sights of Quebec City, Quebec by way of a walking tour, ending with a cup of tea at Chateau Frontenac

Cruises sailing to Canada and New England are featured in Celebrity Summit's 14-night vacations, which can include visits to Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and two nights in Quebec City – the premium line’s first double overnight in the guest-favorite destination in 10 years.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.57 + 0.28%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 93.65 + 1.12%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.44 + 1.24%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 58.76 + 2.30%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Very few photographs taken on board the Titanic during her fateful maiden voyage survived the ship's sinking. Name the passenger who contributed the largest collection and how did he or she survive the sinking?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
In 1973 CY Tung's Orient Overseas Line purchased 2 American passenger ships - what were their old and new names?

Answer - The passenger that took the most photos on the Titanic's maiden voyage was Father Francis Brown. He was onboard the Titanic only to her second port of call, Queens Town (now Cobth), Ireland and therefore was not on the Titanic at the time of the sinking.
courtesy of Monica Graham, Cleveland OH


Cruise News - November 30, 2015

Cunard Redefines Self-Service Dining onboard Queen Mary 2
Today Cunard announced its plans for the major redesign of Kings Court, the relaxed, informal buffet dining experience onboard Queen Mary 2.

During Queen Mary 2's extensive refit from 27 May to 21 June 2016, Kings Court will be completely transformed with a more open, intuitive central buffet area and reconfigured seating arrangements to create a relaxed self-service experience with a refined, yet informal ambiance.

Cunard announced its plans for the major redesign of Kings Court, the relaxed, informal buffet dining experience onboard Queen Mary 2"The remastered Kings Court is one of the most exciting innovations of Queen Mary 2's dramatic refit," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. "From new culinary experiences, to a pleasant, easygoing flow, we are confident that this thoughtfully re-designed dining experience is befitting of our guests' sensibilities, tastes and expectations."

Extensive development work involving Cunard guests and the onboard Queen Mary 2 galley teams has been undertaken over the last eighteen months in the redesign of this very popular area of the flagship. Enhancements are planned to both the service and culinary offerings in Kings Court with the refreshed venue featuring new menus, the convenience of pre-set tables and waiter-served drinks.

Cunard chefs will take center stage in the reimagined Kings Court as they guide guests through cooking demonstrations highlighting the remastered menus and the fresh, high quality ingredients used onboard. Various food journeys will be rotated throughout the dining experience, from enticing hot and cold buffet options to light snacks, afternoon treats and alternative evening dining cuisines such as Indian, Italian, Pan Asian, and Tex Mex.

The popular Chef's Galley area, serving Italian pastas and pizzas for lunch, will also offer a Chef's Table tasting menu on select evenings. Hosted by the Executive Chef, the Chef's Table will offer guests the opportunity to hear insights and recipe tips while enjoying a tasting menu expertly paired with fine wines.

With bright and fresh finishes, Art Deco inspired chandeliers, dramatic artworks, areas of warm timber flooring and the use of mirrors to accentuate the ocean view, the new sophisticated interior design perfectly complements the culinary enhancements being developed for Kings Court.

Crystal River Cruises Announces 2016 through 2018 Itineraries
Crystal Cruises today unveiled the itineraries for its five new luxury river yachts and announced voyages from 2016 through 2018 are now open for booking. The newly acquired and redesigned Crystal Mozart will sail in July 2016, and the four newly built vessels, Crystal Bach, Crystal Debussy, Crystal Mahler, and Crystal Ravel will embark in June and August 2017.

Cunard announced its plans for the major redesign of Kings Court, the relaxed, informal buffet dining experience onboard Queen Mary 2"It's truly thrilling for us, as well as our loyal guests and new-to-Crystal travelers, as more details of what's in store for Crystal River Cruises unfold," said Edie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Crystal Cruises. "We are going to deliver the most luxurious river experience in the industry with a combination of innovative vessel designs, unmatched guest service and fascinating itineraries."

Crystal Cruises will be celebrating 25 years of sailing in 2015 with multiple theme cruises bringing back former Crystal captains, as well as current... The luxury river yachts will maintain the celebrated Crystal Experience for savvy world travelers, featuring all-inclusive amenities, elegantly-appointed suites and six-star service for which the world's most awarded luxury cruise line is renowned. Crystal River Cruises' itineraries will offer a fresh take on traditional river cruising, focusing on longer and overnight stays and daytime cruising, in addition to sailing less-traveled routes to avoid congestion of other vessels in port.

Crystal Mozart (The Danube River), maiden voyage July 13, 2016 – The queen of European river cruises is currently being redesigned and will emerge in 2016 boasting Crystal's signature elegant style and luxurious public spaces, accommodations (160 guest capacity) and special touches. Keeping close to the Austrian roots of its namesake, the river yacht will sail two distinct itineraries of 10 and 11 nights along the Danube, plus a special 10 to 13 night Christmas and New Year's Eve voyage.

• Danube's Capital & Wachau Valley – Taking travelers through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Austria's Wachau Valley, lined with picturesque towns, terraced vineyards, and the stunning charm and architecture of Durnstein, Melk, Linz and Vienna, Austria; Passau, Germany; and Bratislava, Slovakia.

• Countries of Eastern Danube – Exploring the eastern realms of the river and the treasures of Vienna, Austria; Esztergorm, Kalocsa, Budapest, and Mohacs, Hungary; Vukovar, Croatia; the Iron Gate; Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia; and Bratislava, Slovakia.

• Christmas Markets Along the Danube – Celebrating the holiday season in the quintessential winter wonderland of Austria, Germany and Slovakia. Guests can get in a festive mood in exploring the traditional Christmas marketplaces and town squares famous for their holiday singing and dancing, cuisine, shopping and holiday cheer, from Munich's Christkindlmarkt that dates back to the 14th century to the age-old Viennese Christmas Market at City Hall and Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace.

Crystal Debussy (The Seine River), maiden voyage June 4, 2017 – As Paris is a year-round dream destination, five-, seven- and 10-night voyages will explore the City of Light with multiple overnights. The ship's sleek design and smaller size (84 guest capacity) will allow the opportunity to conveniently access berths near the Eiffel Tower for guests to extend their stay in Paris.

• Best of Paris, Seine River & Normandy – An itinerary that highlights the quaint villages and lush valleys that inspired impressionists like Monet and Van Gogh, including the garden at Giverny and the charms of Auvers-Sur-Oise and traces the historic footsteps in the gardens of Versailles. A double overnight will leave guests within walking distance of charming Honfleur and position travelers closer to the surrounding areas' popular attractions including the beaches of Normandy and Deauville.

• Paris & The Arts – An in-depth immersion into the priceless masterpieces housed in this great city, from the Musee d'Orsay and d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris to the famed Louvre; then venturing to Rouen in the heart of Normandy before returning to Paris.

• Pre-Christmas Shopping in Paris – The magic of the season is the focus of this enchanting voyage, replete with indulgent culinary delights and plenty of holiday shopping and fantasy window shopping. Guests can immerse themselves in the Marche de Noel outdoor bazaar and enjoy street performances along the Rue du Gros Horloge in Rouen.

Crystal Bach (The Rhine River), maiden voyage June 18, 2017 – The vessel's 14-night itinerary boasts overnight stays in fascinating and enchanting cities including Amsterdam, Netherlands; Basel, Switzerland; and Ruedesheim, Germany as it travels along the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. A special 10-night voyage again explores the quaint Christmas markets that are synonymous with the region.

• Classic Rhine – Visiting the aforementioned overnight ports, as well as Antwerp, Belgium; Nijmegen, Cologne, Cochem, Koblenz, Mainz, Speyer, Kehl, and Breisach, Germany, and this voyage also allows for additional stays in Frankfurt to explore the 2,000-year-old metropolis and get a birds-eye view from atop the Main Tower, one of the city's tallest buildings.

• Christmas Markets along the Rhine – The snow-flecked towns along the Rhine River will bring storybook holidays to life, inviting travelers aboard the 110-guest capacity Crystal Bach to visit two of Switzerland's loveliest markets - Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz in Basel – plus historical abbeys and cathedrals. An overnight in Cologne sets the stage to feel the magic of the holidays in the festively decorated city which is known to have one of the largest Christmas markets in all of Europe.

Crystal Ravel (The Garonne & Dordogne Rivers, & Gironde Estuary), maiden voyage August 8, 2017 – Delving into the heart of France's most renowned wine region beloved by, both, connoisseurs and novice oenophiles, the 84-guest capacity Crystal Ravel explores the UNESCO-designated cultural site of Bordeaux, which boasts more protected buildings than any other French city outside of Paris.

• Bordeaux, the Wine Region & Beyond – The seven-night itinerary spends two nights in Bordeaux, before cruising on to Cadillac (overnight), Pauillac (overnight), Blaye and Libourne (overnight), France, then back to Bordeaux (overnight). The extra nights in Bordeaux afford guests to visit Arachon in southwestern France for the city's oysters, white wine and the popular Dune du Pilat which is Europe's tallest sand dune.

Crystal Mahler (The Rhine, Main & Danube Rivers), maiden voyage August 29, 2017 – The 16-night "Grand Europe" itinerary is the longest offered by the Crystal river fleet; also two nights longer than most other lines sailing the same route, to provide guests more time to explore this iconic route at a more leisurely place than currently offered.

• Grand Europe – The 110-guest capacity Crystal Mahler will transit the Rhine-Main-Danube with its many locks that connect the continent's two mightiest rivers (the Rhine and the Danube), to explore the treasures of each. From the iconic windmills of Holland to the fairytale villages of Germany's countryside, guests will have ample opportunity to immerse themselves in the charm of the destinations, with overnights in Budapest, Vienna, Passau and Amsterdam.

Musical Grease To Headline On Royal Caribbean's Harmony Of The Seas And Independence Of The Seas
Rydell High is heading to Royal Caribbean International! The first cruise line to feature fully licensed, Tony Award-winning Broadway productions today announced that Broadway's hit musical Grease will take the stage onboard Harmony of the Seas, the most anticipated addition to the fleet yet, sailing across Europe as of May 2016, and Independence of the Seas, Europe's beloved ship that returns to her homeport in Southampton, England for the summer. The all-new, never-before-seen stage production, specially adapted by Royal Caribbean Productions, will boast a soundtrack of crowd favorites such as "Summer Nights," "Greased Lightnin'," "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," "Born to Hand-Jive," "Beauty School Dropout" and more.

Cunard announced its plans for the major redesign of Kings Court, the relaxed, informal buffet dining experience onboard Queen Mary 2"Grease is a show that speaks to families of all ages and is sure to get guests out of their seats, singing and dancing, which is why we made the unprecedented decision to have it debut on Harmony and premiere it onboard Independence immediately, starting in July," said Nick Weir, Vice President, Entertainment, Royal Caribbean International. "As the first cruise line to bring Broadway performances onboard its ships, it's only fitting that we would also be the first to bring Grease to the hospitality industry."

In Grease, Sandy Dumbrowski, the new girl in town, and Danny Zuko, the school's coolest greaser, have a secret summertime romance – but when they return to school, everything is different. Sandy attempts to navigate tricky Rydell High School social waters and catch Danny's attention again, but Danny is chiefly concerned with maintaining his tough-guy reputation. In the end, the Pink Ladies help Sandy figure out how to win back the leader of the T-Birds.

As part of Royal Caribbean's award-winning Broadway offerings, guests of the cruise line can take in performances featuring the greatest hits of legendary rock group Queen with We Will Rock You on Anthem of the Seas; the storytelling of ABBA's timeless songs in MAMMA MIA! on Allure of the Seas; one of the world's most beloved musicals CATS on Oasis of the Seas; the toe-tapping disco beats of Saturday Night Fever on Liberty of the Seas, and now, Grease on Harmony of the Seas and Independence of the Seas.

Harmony of the Seas combines the best of Royal Caribbean's trendsetting innovations, entertainment and service – all designed to surprise guests again and again. From sliding down to the tallest slide at sea, to exploring exciting new destinations, to dining on the most imaginative cuisine at sea – Harmony will put guests at the helm of an unexpected adventure like no other. Harmony of the Seas is not a cruise ship – it's a blow-your-mind, can't-believe-this-is-all-in-one-ship floating adventure, waiting for guests to come seek.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 guest decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,497 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean's exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.

Financial Highlights

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. last week announced that it has completed the $200 million accelerated share repurchase programRoyal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. last week announced that it has completed the $200 million accelerated share repurchase program announced on October 23, 2015. Under the terms of the program, the company repurchased a total of 2,103,288 shares of common stock at a price per share of $95.0892.

The repurchase price was determined based on the average of the daily volume-weighted average prices of the stock during the term of the transaction, less a discount.

The ASR transaction was executed as part of an authorization by the company's Board of Directors to repurchase up to $500 million of common stock. With the completion of the transaction $300 million remains under the share repurchase authorization. The company expects to complete the program by year-end 2016.

On October 16, 2015, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.30 (U.S.) per share. The dividend is payable on December 11, 2015, to shareholders of record on November 20, 2015.

Holders of Carnival Corporation common stock or Carnival plc ADSs will receive a dividend payable in U.S. dollars. The dividend for Carnival plc ordinary shares will be payable in sterling unless shareholders elected to receive the dividend in U.S. dollars by November 20, 2015.

Dividends payable in sterling will be converted from U.S. dollars at the exchange rate quoted by the Bank of England in London at 12 noon on December 1, 2015 (US$1 = 66.32179 pence). Accordingly, the dividend payable in sterling on December 11, 2015, will be 19.89654 pence per share.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.53 - 1.67%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 92.61 - 2.44%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.41 - 2.03%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 57.44 - 1.48%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Very few photographs taken on board the Titanic during her fateful maiden voyage survived the ship's sinking. Name the passenger who contributed the largest collection and how did he or she survive the sinking?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What year did Carnival Cruise Lines begin operations and what was the name of their first cruise ship? Bonus: what was the original name of this ship and which line did she sail for?

Answer - Carnival Cruise Lines began operations in 1972 with the 27,500 GRT s/s Mardi Gras. She was the former Empress of Canada of the Canadian Pacific Line. Her sister ship the Empress of Britain later joined the Carnival Line as the Carnivale.
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA USA


Cruise News - November 23, 2015

Fathom Unveils Onboard Experience Details
Fathom, the pioneer in social impact travel and Carnival Corporation's 10th and newest brand, today shared details on its unique onboard facilities and amenities that will create an enjoyable, memorable experience for travelers.

Fathom Unveils Onboard Experience DetailsFathom travelers will sail aboard the intimate 704-passenger MV Adonia, which will provide each traveler with a safe, comfortable and amenity-equipped venue to prepare them to engage in community-based impact and cultural activities while in the Dominican Republic or Cuba. The Adonia offers extensive accommodations to appeal to every type of traveler including a spa complex, games deck, a pool overlooked by a sun deck, a fitness center with panoramic views and a wide selection of exercise equipment, a full-sized library, flavorful regionally inspired foods and lively Caribbean-themed musical performances.

While onboard Adonia, Fathom travelers will participate in uniquely captivating, immersive programming designed to entertain, inspire, prepare and instruct travelers on making the most out of their time onshore. The programming will range from engaging cultural and geographic immersions exploring the unique and storied histories and customs of the Dominican and Cuba, to interactive social impact workshops that will stimulate the imagination. Other examples include conversational Spanish coaching to help travelers interact with local citizens upon arrival. These onboard activities will be not just a learning experience, but a chance for travelers to transform personally, while spending time with people who share their view of a world where everyone has the opportunity to reach their highest potential.

Fathom will also feature extensive entertainment programming ranging from culturally inspired music and movies to cocktail mixing and gourmet cooking classes.

Following are more details about Fathom's exciting onboard experience:

• Food and beverage: The Ocean Grill is Adonia's specialty restaurant that will serve authentic and modern Cuban and Dominican food. The menu will emphasize the finest ingredients skillfully prepared to create a memorable experience that extends beyond the flavor-rich foods to help travelers further immerse and understand the cultures they will encounter. The Ocean Grill will be open for lunch and dinner.

• Additionally, travelers can toast the evenings by raising a glass in Adonia's wine bar. The Glass House will focus on carefully selected new-world wines by the glass as well as beer and cocktails. The Glass House features an intimate setting and is perfect for exploring new tastes and engaging with like-minded travelers sharing this one-of-a-kind voyage. Hours of operation will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

• Culture: Each voyage begins with one-to-two days at sea journeying to each destination, providing ample time for travelers to relax and settle in. While at sea, travelers may take advantage of a range of onboard facilities, amenities, activities and programming, while getting to know fellow travelers sharing their journey. These action- packed onboard activities will prepare travelers for their onshore adventures in each country, including getting them ready for their on-the-ground cultural experiences and impact work. Travelers to the Dominican Republic also will learn about a range of other exciting recreational activities, unique experiences and must-see landmarks available onshore.

• Conversational Spanish sessions will provide travelers with a greater ability to communicate with local citizens and core impact classes that will help participants understand what it means to be a Fathom traveler, including how to work alongside and engage with locals for the most significant experience and community contribution.

• Fathom trips are "impact inclusive" – including all carefully designed onboard cultural immersion events and impact workshops. They will also include access to all keynote speakers series and educational sessions about each country's history and geography that will help travelers become better familiarized with the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

• Film: Travelers are invited to enjoy onboard film festivals featuring cinematic treasures cultivated from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. They will experience an emotional journey through epic cinematic moments filled with heroes, laughter, and the romance of life in these beautiful Caribbean countries. Fathom's film series will also capture inspired points of view on social entrepreneurship and change makers that reflect everyday life in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, helping travelers gain a clearer understanding of how to make the greatest impact during their time onshore.

• Music/Dance: While onboard as well as in port, travelers may enjoy the lively rhythms and catchy beats of popular Dominican and Cuban music. Bringing some of the best performers onboard, Fathom will present the ultimate concert experience at sea where travelers won't be able to resist moving to the beat. Local Dominican music and musicians will welcome travelers in Amber Cove, Carnival Corporation's newest port and destination development in the Caribbean.

Travelers may also brush up on their dance skills and expand their musical horizons by learning new rhythmic moves onboard during Fathom dance classes teaching merengue, the national dance in the Dominican Republic, and salsa, the national dance of Cuba.

• Retail: The onboard retail experience on Fathom voyages will be unlike anything found anywhere else in the world. The one-of-a-kind collection of products will feature beautiful, unique and authentic goods and merchandise from purpose-driven businesses that empower local entrepreneurs around the globe.

• Spa: Embody, Fathom's full-service onboard luxury spa, will provide an extensive array of restorative and rejuvenating treatments for travelers who want to relax throughout their journey as well as those looking to recharge after spending action-filled days onshore. "One of the most important aspects of every Fathom voyage is the onboard experience before and after the on-ground activities because it combines a great community building environment and playground with a powerful educational venue," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. "While our key mission is giving back, we also think helping to improve the universe should be the most fun you ever have. And we are dedicated to ensuring lively entertainment both onboard and when people are on ground. There will be time for swimming in the beautiful Caribbean water, surfing and enjoying local restaurants and nightlife, for example."

P&O Cruises Australia Debuts Two More Ships, Expands Country's Largest Year-Round Fleet
Carnival Corporation today announced its P&O Cruises Australia brand has introduced its two latest ships, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, expanding Australia's largest year-round fleet to five cruise ships.

P&O Cruises Australia Debuts Two More Ships, Expands Country's Largest Year-Round FleetWith the addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, P&O Cruises Australia now has five ships cruising year-round from eight homeports in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. During the celebration to welcome its two latest ships, Australia's leading cruise line made history by staging two first-ever events: a five-ship spectacular in the world-renowned Sydney Harbour and a social media naming ceremony.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises Australia, said the event marked a new era for P&O, Australia's only homegrown cruise line, which has grown its fleet in response to increasing demand for cruise vacations.

"P&O Cruises has been sailing from Australia for more than 80 years, so we are thrilled to be able to celebrate the expansion of our fleet with so many Sydneysiders today," said Sherry. "The addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden represents a 50 percent expansion in our guest capacity and heralds a new look and feel for our cruise line that is inspired by modern Australia."

With Australian cruise passenger numbers having grown by an average of 20 percent a year over the past decade to break through the one million mark in 2014, P&O Cruises Australia is well positioned to continue meeting Australians' surging demand for cruise vacations. The addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden has paved the way for exciting new cruise options including deployments from every mainland state in Australia, an extended deployment from Auckland and a season of cruising from Singapore.

Carnival Corporation, which owns 10 cruise line brands, including P&O Cruises Australia, is the largest cruise operator in Australia and the only cruise company to have ships based full-time in Australian waters.

Over the past 10 years, Carnival Corporation's presence in Australia has grown rapidly with its local fleet increasing from two full-time ships, both with P&O Cruises, to nine full-time ships from three of the company's brands – five P&O Cruises ships, three Princess Cruises ships and one Carnival Cruise Line ship.

P&O Cruises marked the debut of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden with a social media naming ceremony, which saw popular Australian singer Jessica Mauboy and actress Kate Ritchie simultaneously christening the ships via Twitter as the two vessels sailed by Fort Denison, in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

Notable cruise industry officials and two special guests attended the ceremony – young Sydney sisters Aria and Eden Mulligan, invited by P&O to perform the role of "junior godmothers" for the sister ships, which coincidentally share their names.

In a nod to maritime tradition, a bottle of Champagne was smashed on the bow of each ship as they sailed by Fort Denison, with all five ships sounding their whistles to mark Australia's first dual cruise ship christening.

Thousands of Sydneysiders watched the cruise ship spectacular from the shore, while more than 12,000 guests and crew onboard the five ships joined in the celebrations.

The five ships are to remain on Sydney Harbour all day, with guests onboard enjoying a series of live concerts from more than 25 music acts, including performances by leading local performers Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Justice Crew, Samantha Jade and Stan Walker. The celebration will conclude with a special fireworks display above the harbour.

Designed to be game changers for the Australian cruise industry, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden offer a relaxed vibe in a contemporary and stylish setting.

Both ships feature a range of dining options, including the revolutionary new Pantry, which replaces the traditional ship's buffet with an international food market showcasing eight delicious outlets. Other onboard offerings include stylish new lounges and bars, a stunning poolside area, new Pandora jewelry boutiques and a range of entertainment options including Bianco, the new P&O White party.

Continuing the cruise line's modern Australian evolution, P&O Cruises has another ship on the horizon to be named Pacific Explorer. The ship will build on the fresh and contemporary design of newcomers Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden. The 77,000-ton ship, currently sailing as Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess, is scheduled to enter the P&O Australia fleet in May 2017 and will sail from Sydney during its inaugural season. Details of its sailings will be released in the near future.

Queen Mary 2 Makes Maiden Call in Amber Cove
Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 was greeted with excitement during her inaugural visit to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, November 22. Coming from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands on her Caribbean voyage, Queen Mary 2's visit to Amber Cove marked the first call that the ocean liner has ever made in the Dominican Republic.

Queen Mary 2 Makes Maiden Call in Amber CoveQueen Mary 2's arrival was celebrated during a traditional maritime ceremony aboard, during which port officials and dignitaries exchanged decorative plaques with Captain Kevin Oprey to commemorate the maiden visit. Local executives who welcomed the ship included Vice Minister of Tourism, Julio Almonte; Director of National Police, Coronel Jose Isaia Santana Morillo; Commander of the Air Force, General Richard Vazquez.

"It is an honour to bring Cunard guests to Amber Cove, and to join Carnival Corporation's major cruise brands in making regular visits to the Puerto Plata," said Captain Kevin Oprey, Master of Queen Mary 2. "We thank the kind people of Dominican Republic for such a warm and hospitable welcome, and we look forward to further time Queen Mary 2 will be spending here in January as part of her World Voyage."

Set in a cove among a mountainous and lush tropical landscape, Amber Cove features dramatic architectural elements that reflect the area's storied Victorian and Colonial past. The waterfront welcome center hosts a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of unique food and beverage establishments featuring an array of specialty dishes of the north coast along with an artisanal coffee shop that brews and sells locally grown coffee.

"On behalf of the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, The Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia and the city of Puerto Plata, we wish to thank Cunard for the arrival of Queen Mary 2," said Julio Almonte, Vice Minister of Tourism for the Dominican Republic. "We are very happy and honored to have this important ship visiting our destination. It is a day of joy and celebration for the arrival of Queen Mary 2."

Princess Announces 2017 Inaugural European Sailings of Majestic Princess
Princess Cruises announced today its 2017 cruise vacations to Europe, including the inaugural sailings of the line's newest ship Majestic Princess. The season features six ships sailing to 119 destinations from the corners of the Mediterranean to the northernmost tip of Europe.

Princess Announces 2017 Inaugural European Sailings of Majestic PrincessGuests can choose from 64 unique itineraries on 153 cruise departures, visiting 27 countries. Debuting in April 2017, Majestic Princess first sets sail on maiden European sailings with five- to 28-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona, Athens and Rome.

"Princess is known for offering the best cruise itineraries around the globe and our 2017 Europe season is sure to inspire our guests with our newest and largest ships in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "We're especially excited to debut Majestic Princess in the Mediterranean before she officially sails to Asia for her maiden China cruise season."

Princess now offers the More Ashore program, crafting the line's newest itineraries to give guests more opportunities to experience the color, culture and flavors of the region in 2017. With port calls offering more time ashore with either late night departures (9pm or later), an overnight, or a two-day experience, travelers can see the sights during the day and then experience the nightlife of select destinations in the evening. Highlights of the More Ashore program in Europe include overnights in Dublin and St. Petersburg on select sailings, as well as late evening stays in more than 15 countries.

Highlights of the Princess Cruises 2017 Europe program include:

Majestic Princess
The newest cruise ship to join the Princess fleet debuts in Rome (Civitavecchia) on April 4, 2017 for a five-day Maiden Adriatic Sea roundtrip voyage visiting Kotor and Corfu. The 3,560-guest Majestic Princess then sails on a series of seven-, 14-, 21- and 28-day Mediterranean voyages departing Barcelona, Athens and Rome from April 9-May 14, 2017.

Cruises to the Mediterranean
In addition to Majestic Princess, Royal Princess features new 11-day Grand Mediterranean and 10-day Western Mediterranean combinable for a 21-day Grand Mediterranean Collection, as well as seven, 14-, 21- and 28-day sailings throughout the Mediterranean

Scandinavia & Russia Cruises
Regal Princess returns to Northern Europe, along with Crown Princess and Pacific Princess for popular cruise vacations to Scandinavia & Russia, offering an overnight in St. Petersburg with departures from London (Southampton or Dover) or Copenhagen. A new Pacific Princess Baltic Heritage itinerary includes overnights in Stockholm and St. Petersburg, sailing from London (Dover).

British Isles Cruises
The 2017 Europe season marks the line's largest British Isles season ever with 12 departures on Caribbean Princess and two on Pacific Princess, including last night stays in Edinburgh offering the opportunity to visit the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo on select sailings. All 12-day British Isles cruises include a new late evening stay in Belfast and an option of an overnight in Dublin on select departures from London (Southampton).

New Ports of Call
Summer 2017 features maiden port calls to Haugesund (Norway), Oban (Scotland), Siracusa (Sicily, Italy), Ulvik (Norway), and St. Tropez (France).

Iceland & Norway Cruises
Both Crown Princess and Pacific Princess will offer North Cape voyages to the Arctic Circle during the peak midnight sun period around the summer solstice. Crown Princess will also visit the spectacular Norwegian fjords, while Pacific Princess will feature a maiden call in Haugesund, Norway.

Pacific Princess will also offer 14-day Iceland & Norway itineraries visiting off-the-beaten path ports in Iceland and the Shetland Islands. She will also cross to the land of fire and ice on a Transatlantic passage featuring Iceland.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 51.39 + 1.22%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 94.39 + 0.60%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.46 + 2.50%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 55.30 + 7.31%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What year did Carnival Cruise Lines begin operations and what was the name of their first cruise ship? Bonus: what was the original name of this ship and which line did she sail for?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Today it's common place, but which was the first cruise ship to be enlarged by having an 85 foot mid-section inserted? As a result of this surgery, her capacity increased from 876 to over 1,200.

Answer - The first cruise ship to be enlarged was the Song of Norway.
courtesy of Manuela Flynn


Cruise News - November 16, 2015

Crystal Luxury Air To Take To The Skies With A Boeing 777
Crystal Cruises announced this week that it has purchased a Boeing Business Jet B777-200LR which will allow them to offer an array of global itineraries for its expanded brand extension Crystal Luxury Air. The announcement comes on the heels of Crystal's groundbreaking news in July of an extensive brand expansion, which will include extravagant air vacations around the world aboard a luxurious Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

Crystal Luxury Air To Take To The Skies With A Boeing 777In addition to doubling the initial air projections with the expanded aircraft fleet, Crystal will work with the Registry of Aruba in developing and securing an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC). This will pave the way for Crystal Luxury Air to launch international operations. The twin-aisle BBJ B777-200LR will be redesigned to accommodate just 88 guests with flat-bed first class seats; a beautifully appointed lounge and bar; and offer 14- and 28-day around-the-world and international itineraries, beginning in 2017.

"Our mission is to make Crystal the core of what will become the world's premier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand collection, not only for the immediate future, but for years to come," said Crystal Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. "The acquisition of our second luxury aircraft is another profound step toward establishing our goal."

The twin-aisle Boeing 777-200LR, and the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which typically seats up to 300 passengers and will be redesigned to accommodate just 52 guests, will boast the premium luxury that discerning global travelers have come to expect from Crystal, including copious amounts of guest space, plush amenities and Crystal's world-class service and crew. Trips will include accommodations at the world's most luxurious hotels, the finest Michelin star-level cuisine prepared by celebrated chefs and fabulous local cultural entertainment. Additionally, the aircrafts can be arranged for special charters.

"Following our expansion announcement, travelers and travel agents expressed a strong interest in all-inclusive luxury air travel with a wider range of itineraries," says Crystal's President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. "Based on this enthusiastic feedback, we are growing our fleet to meet the demand from our guests and travel partners in luxury air options."

Seabourn To Return To Alaska For The First Time In 15 Years
Seabourn Cruise Line, has announced its plan to return to "The Great Land" of Alaska beginning in 2017. Responding to high guest demand and having not deployed a ship there for 15 years, Seabourn Sojourn will offer a series of 11-, 12- and 14-day itineraries sailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage (Seward), Alaska.

Seabourn To Return To Alaska For The First Time In 15 YearsSeabourn will offer unique voyages combining Alaska's most popular ports with rarely visited hidden gems of the Inside Passage. Taking advantage of Seabourn Sojourn's intimate size and nimble maneuverability, guests will enjoy a privileged view of The Last Frontier that larger ships cannot access.

"Seabourn's return to Alaska has been a long time coming and highly anticipated," said John Delaney, Seabourn's senior vice president, global marketing and sales. "We're looking forward to sharing with our guests the highlights of Alaska, from the mountains and glaciers to the picturesque frontier towns and amazing wildlife. But they'll also see an uncommon Alaska, a side that few visitors ever get to see. No other line can show them in such ultra-luxury Seabourn style," added Delaney.

Itineraries include visits to iconic sites, such as the towering virgin forests along the Inside Passage; the thunderous calving of glaciers and impressive humpback whales breaching in the Kenai Fjords; Juneau, the state capital, inaccessible by road; Ketchikan, the southernmost and arguably most-colorful town in the state; and Sitka, whose Tlingit history traces back 10,000 years. Interspersed will be visits to unspoiled hideaways such as Alert Bay, British Columbia, a tiny Namgis First Nations community offering rare insights into the region's aboriginal cultures; and Klemtu, a small island outpost in the Inside Passage.

In spots such as Misty Fjords and the hauntingly beautiful Tracy Arm, guests will be able explore wildlife-rich waterways, forested mountain vistas and lacy waterfalls up close via Ventures by Seabourn, an innovative optional program of Zodiac and kayak excursions led by Seabourn Sojourn's expedition team of naturalists, science, wildlife and historical experts. The same expedition team will be on hand on deck, pointing out, interpreting and enhancing desirable locations.

In addition, each of the new 11-, 12- and 14-day cruises will include complimentary Seabourn all-weather jackets; inspiring Seabourn Conversations with special onboard guest speakers; opportunities for frequent wildlife sightings from the ship and shore; and a "Caviar on the Ice" deck party and other special deck events.

Seabourn's return to Alaska begins with the "11-Day Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn," departing Vancouver, British Columbia on June 1, 2017, bound for Anchorage, Alaska, with the Queen Charlotte Sound, Ketchikan, Misty Fjords, Behm Narrows, Wrangell, Decision Passage, Sitka, Tracy Arm, Endicott Arm, Haines, Juneau, and Icy Strait Point in between

Celebrity Cruises Introduces New Luxury Perks For Suite Passengers
Modern luxury cruise brand Celebrity Cruises' Suite Class is the height of "the suite life" at sea, and now, it just got even better. Starting next month, all Suite Class guests will begin to enjoy even more indulgent services and amenities. At the center of these is a "trifecta of suiteness" found on no other premium cruise line: personal butler service that ensures guests never have to lift a finger; an exclusive restaurant, Luminae, which serves up delicious meals only for suite guests; and a private lounge featuring a dedicated concierge.

Celebrity Cruises Introduces New Luxury Perks For Suite PassengersOther new Suite Class perks include luxurious new Bulgari bath amenities to pamper guests from head to toe and a new, mouthwatering selection of Delectable Delights – created by Celebrity's Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher – delivered daily. Plus, select suites now will receive a bottle of Perrier-Jouët champagne on embarkation day. These benefits will begin in January 2016.

And, Sky Suite guests will soon "join the club" – Michael's Club, that is. Beginning on Dec. 16, 2015 onboard Celebrity Solstice, Sky Suites will join the rest of Suite Class with access to Michael's Club, the exclusive lounge that offers complimentary cocktails, appetizers, and a dedicated Michael's Club Concierge. The Suite Class experience in Michael's Club is enhanced by outstanding service from a dedicated Michael's Club Concierge. Recently, the first of Celebrity's dedicated Michael's Club Concierges has earned the Golden Key award from the prestigious Les Clefs d'Or Austria—the distinguished, international network of service professionals. Every Michael’s Club Concierge in Celebrity's fleet will work toward earning their Golden Key awards throughout 2016.

"Suite Class is the epitome of our modern luxury vacation experience, and now, it's even more lavish," said Brian Abel, Vice President, Hotel Operations, Celebrity Cruises. "We're the only premium cruise line that ensures that all suite guests – regardless of category – not only have a personal butler, but also a private restaurant, and an exclusive lounge with a dedicated concierge. It's the sweet life, for sure; we like to call it a 'trifecta of suiteness.'"

Senior Staff Officers Bring a Combined 95 Years of Service to HAL’s New Koningsdam
When Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam debuts in April 2016, the ship’s senior staff officers will set sail with a combined 95 years of company loyalty and experience. In addition to the previously announced appointment of Captain Emiel de Vries, the cruise line announced that Hotel Director Stan Kuppens, Chief Engineer Willem Zuidema, Staff Captain Kevin Beirnaert and Safety, Environmental and Health Officer Martijn van Dam will lead Koningsdam’s shipboard teams.

HAL Introduces 'Countdown to Koningsdam' Video SeriesThe 99,500-ton ship currently is under construction at Fincantieri’s shipyard at Marghera, Italy. During its inaugural year Koningsdam will explore the Mediterranean and northern Europe in summer and the Caribbean in winter. “Holland America Line has an incredible depth of talented and qualified personnel, and we’re thrilled to have Stan, Willem, Kevin and Martijn joining Captain de Vries to head up the onboard teams that will bring out Koningsdam,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “With their knowledge, experience and years of dedication to the company, these senior staff officers are well positioned to ensure that the ship is a successful addition to our fleet.”

Meet Captain Emiel de Vries - Announced previously, Captain Emiel de Vries will be in command when Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam sets sail in April 2016. Having been with the company since 1997, de Vries rose through the ranks from fourth officer to captain and has been master of ms Amsterdam, ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Rotterdam and ms Zuiderdam. Hailing from the Netherlands, de Vries grew up just east of Amsterdam. He graduated from the Hogere Zeevaart School in Amsterdam, one of the oldest nautical schools in the world, with degrees in navigation and engineering. De Vries was introduced to Holland America Line in 1995 when he interned as a cadet on the former ms Noordam, and since joining the company, he has sailed on every class of Holland America Line ship.

When not in Italy at the shipyard, de Vries lives in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, with his wife, Susan, and their daughter.

Meet Hotel Director Stan Kuppens - Since joining Holland America Line in 1990, Hotel Director Stan Kuppens has sailed on 12 current ships and four that are no longer with the fleet. In addition to ms Koningsdam, Kuppens was the hotel director who launched ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Eurodam, ms Noordam and ms Westerdam, the four ships most recently built for the cruise line. He also has worked on ms Amsterdam, ms Maasdam, ms Oosterdam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam, ms Statendam, ms Zaandam and ms Zuiderdam.

A native of Nijmegen, Netherlands, Kuppens enjoyed sailing on the rivers and lakes of the Netherlands as a child and he looked for a career that combined his love of travel and his appreciation for hospitality. After graduating from the University of Hotel Management, he came to work for Holland America Line and was selected to be a part of the prestigious Management Trainee Program — a multiyear course that provides training in all aspects of a marine Hotel Department, eventually leading to the hotel director position. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and son.

Meet Staff Captain Kevin Beirnaert - Koningsdam’s Staff Captain Kevin Beirnaert joined Holland America Line in 2006 and worked on Rotterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam and Eurodam prior to being named to the newbuild team.

Hailing from Gent, Belgium, Beirnaert studied at the Hogere Zeevaart school in Antwerp, Belgium, and worked for freight company Ecuadorian Line and on dredging ships in Dubai, U.A.E. on the Palm Jumeirah Project before joining Holland America Line. Beirnaert resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Meet Chief Engineer Willem Zuidema - Chief Engineer Willem Zuidema joined Holland America Line in 1991 aboard ss Rotterdam after sailing on cargo ships with Nedlloyd. During his career with the company he has served on several ships and was involved in the building of Ryndam and Rotterdam. Prior to being named to the Koningsdam team he was chief engineer on Oosterdam.

A graduate of Marine Engineering College in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the Dutch native from The Hague began his seagoing career as a dual-purpose officer (both deck and engine) before committing to the engineering side of ship operations. Zuidema also holds a Master of Arts degree in international development. He and his wife live in Atibaia, Brazil, and when on leave he is involved in several educational projects in that country.

Meet Safety, Environmental and Health Officer Martijn van Dam - Growing up in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, as the fifth generation in a family of shipbuilders, Safety, Environmental and Health Officer Martijn van Dam sought his career at sea when he was 18 years old. A graduate of Hogere Zeevaart School Amsterdam with degrees in navigation and engineering, van Dam joined Holland America Line in 2000 on the previous Nieuw Amsterdam in the engineering department and has since worked in several capacities on almost all the ships in the fleet. He has also served as a safety and environmental trainer for the fleet.

When he’s not onboard, van Dam lives in a small village at Costa Blanca, Spain, where he is restoring an old farm.

Crystal Unveils The Ultimate Adventure Checklist On Alaska's Frontier
Alaska's majestic landscapes and seemingly untouched terrain continue to beckon travelers to explore and discover in new ways, an area in which Crystal Cruises – the world's most awarded cruise line – has pioneered throughout its 25 years of ultra-luxury cruising. In 2016, the line's Crystal Serenity will sail seven voyages of seven and 10 days, offering intrepid luxury travelers literally hundreds of opportunities to immerse themselves in the countless facets of Alaska's culture, outdoor adventures and resident wildlife, while enjoying the exclusivity and elegance for which Crystal is known.

Crystal Unveils The Ultimate Adventure Checklist On Alaska's Frontier"With all of our Crystal Adventures, it is our goal to bring the destinations to life for our guests by offering authentic, memorable experiences," says Crystal's president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez. "The spirit of adventure permeates every part of life in Alaska, naturally, we strive to showcase this culture to travelers in every possible way." vOffering experiences that cater to virtually every interest, Crystal's roster of Alaskan adventures in 2016 can be enjoyed from virtually any vantage point, by air, sea, land and glacier, with many adventures combining several of these. Just a sampling of the intrepid highlights includes: vHeli-Hike and White Pass Railway, which takes guests high above the Sawtooth Mountains, through the wilderness via train, and on a four- to five-mile hike along the Skagway River to the magnificent Laughton Glacier. Bears, moose and mountain goat sightings are an added perk (from Skagway, Alaska).

Glacier flightseeing and dog sledding, another combo adventure that highlights two of Alaska's most popular sports, taking travelers via helicopter to the top of Denver Glacier, where they'll marvel at the endless sea of peaks and glaciers beyond before entering the world of mushing, guided by the professionals of the Iditarod Dog Races (from Skagway). *A second "musher's camp" dog sledding adventure is offered from Juneau.

Whale-watching eco-adventure, combining a favorite activity in Alaska's waters with the Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation's efforts to preserve the wilderness shorelines; affording views of orcas and humpback whales, as well as Stellar sea lions, harbor seals and more. All while educating participants about how the animals are identified and protected.

ATV adventure through the Tongass National Forest, allowing travelers the opportunity to visit Alaskan Brown Bears and Sitka Black Tail Deer in their common habitat as they cruise along the rough terrain via 4x4, stopping for sea views of whale spouts and sea otters in the distance (from Sitka).

Fly fishing by floatplane, flying far into the Alaskan wilderness to a remote spot not accessible to road access, where the catch-and-release fishing expedition begins in pursuit of salmon, Dolly Varden, cutthroat trout or steelhead.

Dozens of other Crystal Adventures offer numerous glacier treks, kayaking excursions, photography-focused expeditions, highlights of Alaska's Russian and native heritage, zipline thrills, wildlife encounters and preservation education, and even crab feeds. Travelers can even enjoy observing nature from the comfort of the luxury ship as it transits Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier. Additionally, a five-night Extended Land Program through Denali National Park will be offered for guests sailing on the August 16 Northwest Passage voyage from Anchorage to New York.

Crystal Serenity's 2016 Alaska cruise season runs from June 19 through August 16, with a spring Asia voyage and a late-August Northwest Passage route also featuring Alaskan calls and adventures.

Carnival Adds Baltimore's Heavy Seas Beer The Growing List Of Microbrews
Heavy Seas Beer is the latest locally brewed beer to be featured on a Carnival Cruise Line ship. Based in Baltimore, Heavy Seas is now served on Carnival Pride, which sails seven-day cruises year-round from the Port of Baltimore.

Carnival Adds Baltimore's Heavy Seas Beer The Growing List Of MicrobrewsWith the addition of Heavy Seas' pirate-themed Loose Cannon and Crossbones beers, Carnival ships now offer an expansive selection of craft beers and microbrews with more than a dozen locally brewed beers from cities and states where its ships are homeported.

"Craft beer continues to grow in popularity and we're very pleased to expand our beverage menus to include an array of refreshing and satisfying beers from some of the top breweries in the country," said Eddie Allen, Carnival's vice president of beverage operations. Allen noted that Carnival also offers its own private label draught beer, ThirstyFrog Red, which is available throughout the fleet.

"Heavy Seas Beer is proud and excited to partner with Carnival Cruise Line to introduce our unique, boldly flavored craft beers to a new audience," said Fred Crudder, director of marketing and hospitality for Heavy Seas Beer. "It's time for Heavy Seas on the high seas!"

Heavy Seas Beer was founded in 1995, and its award-winning portfolio features beers for all tastes and occasions. From crisp, light-bodied session beers, traditional European styles and dynamic American craft specialties to strong barrel-aged beers, the company brews a full spectrum of beers.

Craft beers and microbrews are also available on ships operating from the following homeports and cruising regions:

• Galveston: Shiner Bock and Shiner Premium
• New Orleans: Abita Amber and Abita Purple Haze
• Florida: Tampa-brewed Cigar City Florida Cracker and Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale
• Alaska: Alaskan Amber and Alaskan White
• Hawaii: Bikini Blonde Lager and Mana Wheat beers from Maui Brewing Co.

Additional specialty beers from breweries in New York, California and Florida are scheduled to be added in the near future.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.77 - 3.42%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 94.36 - 3.49%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.40 - 3.90%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.33 - 7.52%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Today it's common place, but which was the first cruise ship to be enlarged by having an 85 foot mid-section inserted? As a result of this surgery, her capacity increased from 876 to over 1,200.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which cruise ship was the first to provide passengers Internet access?

Answer - In 1999, Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Sky became the first cruise ship to offer their passengers onboard Internet access.
courtesy of Herbert A Rideout, Fallbrook, CA


Cruise News - November 9, 2015

Norwegian Escape Christened in Miami
Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Escape – Norwegian's largest ship and the first in its Breakaway Plus Class – was christened today in a stunning ceremony worthy of her size and status.

International music sensation Pitbull, who also served as GODFATHER for Norwegian Escape, thrilled fans and VIPs alike at the PortMiami pier side concert. The ship's breathtaking hull artwork, created by Guy Harvey, who made a special guest appearance, served as the backdrop for the epic event.

Norwegian Escape Christened in MiamiNorwegian Cruise Line Holdings chief executive officer Frank Del Rio kicked off the festivities, where guests experienced an afternoon packed with fun and excitement in celebration of Norwegian Escape. Following a surprise opening act which featured acrobatic Parkour performers defying gravity (with the help of hidden trampolines built into the stage), national radio personality Froggy from the "Elvis Duran Morning Show" took the reins as event emcee, engaging the audience and introducing performers and special VIP guests, including Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez who discussed the positive impact Norwegian Escape will have on the local community, its residents and the economy.

Attendees were treated to a special sneak peek at the stellar entertainment Norwegian Escape has to offer as the casts of Tony Award-winning Broadway shows "After Midnight" and "Million Dollar Quartet" performed a selection of songs from each respective show, before Pitbull brought down the house with his hottest hits, including "Don't Stop the Party", "Fireball" and "Give Me Everything".

DJ-led sing-alongs and a slideshow of themed guest photos snapped by roving photographers created a truly interactive event, where audience members quite literally became part of the show as photos of individual attendees holding signs customized with the place they'd choose to "Escape" were projected onto the jumbo screen on the main stage.

"Norwegian Escape represents a major moment for us – this is a true evolution of our brand," said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and chief operating officer. "Not only does she offer high caliber entertainment, quality dining and luxurious accommodations that significantly raise the bar for our fleet and puts her in a class of her own, but she exemplifies our renewed commitment to offering unparalleled freedom and flexibility to our guests."

Norwegian Escape, the largest in Norwegian's fleet of 14 vessels, features an elevated design that makes for a decidedly upscale experience. Quality finishes, curated artwork and the most luxurious The Haven by Norwegian™ exclusive ship–within-a-ship suite complex are just a few of the standout features that put Norwegian Escape in a class of her own.

Norwegian Escape's Haven is the largest in the fleet and the most luxurious. At the heart of the private enclave on the top of the ship lies a three-story covered courtyard. An expanded forward sundeck with a cantilevered whirlpool, along with a new outdoor dining space in the Haven's private restaurant make Norwegian Escape's Haven the ultimate small ship experience, while still providing the freedom to enjoy large ship dining, entertainment and amenities.

Norwegian Escape's dining options offer guests a mix of complimentary options, signature favorites and new premium specialty outlets. Showcasing all-new upgraded menus across all restaurants, the ship's 11 complimentary dining offerings and signature specialty restaurants Le Bistro, Cagney's and La Cucina rival those of luxury lines, with menu highlights including Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb, Fresh Maine Lobsters and Steak au Poivre with cognac sauce. Two new specialty restaurants from James Beard Award-Winning Iron Chef Jose Garces include Bayamo, a Latin seafood specialty restaurant, and Pincho Tapas Bar. Also new onboard is the Food Republic, a sophisticated food hall developed by Miami-based The Pubbelly Restaurant Group. The combination of choice and quality in dining options onboard and her upmarket design sets Norwegian Escape apart in the contemporary cruise market.

Continuing with Norwegian's commitment to excellence in entertainment, Norwegian Escape features two truly spectacular Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals that headline the Escape Theater: After Midnight, the smash-hit musical that combines the big-band songs of Duke Ellington and the best dancing from Broadway; and Million Dollar Quartet, the smash-hit musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock 'n' roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. In a new concept exclusive to Norwegian Escape, the Supper Club has been re-imagined for an unforgettable dinner and show. For The Record: The Brat Pack™ is a critically acclaimed Hollywood night that celebrates classic soundtracks of motion picture masters in a one-of-a kind 360 degree post-modern cabaret.

Nightlife onboard includes outposts of several popular land-based outlets, including the first-ever Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant and 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar at sea, a music venue and outdoor bar on The Waterfront that features live nightly performances. The District Brew House, a hip, urban craft beer hall featuring an exclusive partnership with Miami's own Wynwood Brewing Company, will serve up more than 24 draft beers while The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar, features an array of immersive wine experiences, focusing on tasting, education, and the enjoyment of wine. Norwegian Escape will also feature Miami's oldest and most legendary bar, Tobacco Road.

Norwegian Escape's recreation spaces are unrivaled, with the largest ropes course at sea leading a wide array of activities. This three-story multiplex of heart-pounding challenges complete with two planks and five Sky Rails, zip tracks that allow guests to soar through the air. On the top of the ship, guests will find a redesigned pool deck area that features an open area for sunbathing, a double-deck bar and two new large format LED screens. Norwegian Escape's Aqua Park is the largest at sea and includes a new tandem Aqua Racer slide, complete with a clear acrylic section to further enhance the thrill of this adventure ride. Adding to the family fun, Norwegian Escape features an expanded Kids' Aqua Park with an enclosed slide, rope climb fun zone and spray cannons for kids to splash and play in their own designated space. Along with an expanded Splash Academy youth center that includes dedicated play spaces for specific age groups, Norwegian Escape also offers the line's first nursery for cruisers two and under.

In addition to family oceanview staterooms that accommodate up to five guests, Norwegian Escape's accommodations include Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; and many options for families, multi-generational groups, spa enthusiasts and more.

MSC Cruises Announces Partnership With Cirque Du Soleil
MSC Cruises today announced a long-term partnership with Cirque du Soleil -- the Quebec-based world leader in artistic entertainment -- that will set new standards in live entertainment at sea. In a first at sea, brand new Cirque du Soleil shows will be created exclusively for MSC Cruises guests aboard the cruise line's next-generation Meraviglia ships in a multi-million dollar, ground-breaking entertainment and dining venue, designed in collaboration by MSC Cruises and Cirque du Soleil.

MSC Cruises Announces Partnership With Cirque Du SoleilExquisite dining and award-winning entertainment are two key distinguishing elements of the MSC Cruises experience. To elevate these two elements to the next level, MSC Cruises and Cirque du Soleil together imagined and are building a completely custom-made, latest-technology dining and entertainment venue -- the first of its kind at sea -- for MSC Cruises' Meraviglia ships. This is where MSC Cruises guests will be able to enjoy brand new, exclusive Cirque du Soleil shows, six nights a week, two performances per night -- all while enjoying an extraordinary MSC Cruises culinary experience.

The specifically-designed venue represents an industry-first $21 million investment, in which the custom-built entertainment and dining Aft lounge is equipped with the latest technology and best-suited to the needs of both Cirque du Soleil artists and guests. The 10,760 sq ft, 450-seat Aft lounge will feature a 200-seat dining area so that guests can enjoy an exquisite dinner or drinks before the performance. Cirque du Soleil's world-class artists will deliver two shows created exclusively for MSC Cruises that will capture the imagination of all guests. Shows and related dining options will be available only to MSC Cruises guests aboard the four next-generation Meraviglia project ships, the first of which -- MSC Meraviglia -- is set to sail its inaugural season in the Mediterranean from June 2017.

"MSC Cruises is a company built on innovation, from the unique, prototype ships we design and build to the on-board experiences we conceive and create," said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises. "Together with our newest world-class partner, Cirque du Soleil, we imagined and are now designing a totally new, live entertainment experience exclusively for our guests; an original show in a multimillion-dollar custom-built venue aboard a ship we designed ourselves, down to the last detail. It's this commitment to innovation, and the vision and creativity that only a family-owned company can apply, that make MSC Cruises so distinct."

"We have found in MSC a long term partner with a clear vision about trends in the cruising industry and a strong desire to be the leader by bringing entertainment on board to a whole new level," said Yasmine Khalil, President 45 DEGREES, Cirque du Soleil's Special Projects Company. "For Cirque du Soleil, this is what inspires us and provides us with a great creative challenge that we require for each new relationship and project that we embark on."

This ground-breaking new offering will first be available aboard MSC Meraviglia, the most innovative cruise ship ever built by a global European-based cruise line. The cutting-edge 4,500-guest (based on double occupancy), 167,600-GRT ship -- due to be delivered in May 2017 -- will spend her first summer sailing the western Mediterranean, and will be the first to have three major ports of embarkation: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona.

Cunard Introduces the Carinthia Lounge on Queen Mary 2
Today Cunard announced its plans to transform Queen Mary 2's Winter Garden into an elegant, airy and versatile new venue: the Carinthia Lounge. Named after Cunard's beloved Carinthia ships, the new Carinthia Lounge will take shape during Queen Mary 2's multimillion dollar refit from 27 May to 21 June 2016.

Cunard Introduces the Carinthia Lounge on Queen Mary 2Designed to be one of the most stylish and talked-about destinations on Queen Mary 2, the Carinthia Lounge will transition seamlessly throughout the day, from a serene and cheery lounge serving light breakfast and lunch dishes, to an elegant evening destination. It will become the perfect spot to sit and relax, the place to catch up with friends or the venue to enjoy a good book.

The Carinthia Lounge will feature a dedicated patisserie and an afternoon tea service, with the option of a special Veuve Cliquot Champagne Afternoon Tea experience. When the sun sets, the atmosphere will evolve into an inviting evening spot with premium wine, small plates and relaxed entertainment.

"The Carinthia embodied the spirit of travel in the 1920s, which saw the rise in popularity in world voyages and winter cruises, and it is our honor to bestow this name onto our new lounge set to launch following refit," says Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. "We believe this space will truly elevate the Queen Mary 2 experience, adding new innovative culinary options, as well as another level of refined relaxation and entertainment for our guests."

The Carinthia Lounge will feature a fresh colour palette of powder blue, cream and gold, and versatile seating layouts including dining chairs and tables near the new patisserie and chic curved lounge seating under decorative lights. The spacious venue will also feature a wine wall, vertical metal Art Deco-inspired screens, and a dark walnut timber dance floor.

MSC Cruises Welcomes MSC Divina Back To Miami
MSC Cruises today celebrated the arrival of MSC Divina – one of the company's newest and most ultra-modern ships – to Miami, where she will sail year-round to the Caribbean.

MSC Divina spent this past summer in the Mediterranean, following her inaugural Caribbean season sailing from Miami between November 2013 - April 2015. Her return to Miami marks a significant milestone for the company as it increases its focus on the North American market.

MSC Cruises Welcomes MSC Divina Back To MiamiIn addition, MSC Cruises announced that sales for its next-generation cruise ship MSC Seaside, will open on December 15th, two years ahead of her debut, in December 2017. MSC Seaside, which will join MSC Divina in sailing from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at PortMiami, will be the first MSC Cruises' ship to head directly to the U.S. from the shipyard, and be the first MSC Cruises' ship to be christened in the U.S.

"MSC Cruises is embarking on an ambitious growth plan that includes seven planned new builds that will allow us to expand our geographical footprint to new destinations and double our capacity by 2022," said Rick Sasso, President of MSC Cruises USA. "We've already seen significant interest from North Americans in MSC Cruises unique 'Mediterranean Style Cruising' experience and MSC Divina sailing year-round from Miami – coupled with the opening of sales for the ground breaking MSC Seaside – represents a new chapter for MSC Cruises as we grow in this region."

MSC Cruises tailors its on-board product to meet the needs of the market it is serving, while still maintaining a unique Mediterranean flair, no matter where in the world it is sailing.

During MSC Divina's inaugural Caribbean season, the company catered to the needs of North Americans through customized enhancements, such as adapting menus and dining times to North American preferences; being the first cruise ship in the world to introduce Aqua Cycling at sea; and offering wine blending classes, in which guests work with wine experts to create, label and bottle their own blend of wine.

With the ship's return to Miami, the cruise line will continue to make enhancements to MSC Divina's offerings for a North American audience. This season, MSC Cruises is introducing four new shows to its award-winning entertainment line-up on MSC Divina, including "Treasure Island," "The Voices," "Swing" and "The Mask." In addition, MSC Divina will feature new musicians and bands specifically selected for the U.S. market to play in bars and lounges, as well as new themed parties such as a fun, weekly "fluo" party (a glow-in-the-dark party), and a "snow" party with a snow cannon.

Given the popularity of its wine experiences, MSC Divina will launch a new offering, in partnership with Blend Craft Wines called "Boutique Winery Tastings." Guests on MSC Divina will have the chance to try rare wines from award-winning boutique wineries, many of which produce wines that are only for sale at the winery, or can only be bought by wine club members. As an added bonus, MSC Divina guests who participate in the tastings can then order many of the wines to be shipped directly to their home.

Other changes being made on MSC Divina as it returns to Miami include updated casino offerings, replacing approximately 50 percent of slot machines found on board with the latest premium games, and new children and family activities such as live talent shows put on by the children aboard.

Carnival Corporation's AIDA Cruises to Become First German Cruise Brand in China
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced its AIDA Cruises brand will sail AIDAbella out of Shanghai all year round starting in Spring 2017, making it the first German cruise ship to have a homeport in China and on a year-round basis.

Carnival Corporation's AIDA Cruises to Become First German Cruise Brand in ChinaTwo of Carnival Corporation's brands – Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises – already have a strong presence in China, and in 2017, two more of the company's brands -- AIDA Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line – will operate out of China. This will make Carnival Corporation the first to operate four brands in China – expected to eventually become the world's largest cruise market based on surging demand for cruise vacations by Chinese travelers.

"AIDA would not be so successful today if we had not constantly ventured into new territory in the 20 years since we commissioned our first new ship," said Felix Eichhorn, president of AIDA Cruises. "Now we are taking another important step. With AIDAbella, we are exporting our successful concept – "Made in Germany" – to China, the world's strongest growing market for cruises. With our lifestyle-oriented and innovative product, we will be providing powerful momentum to the emerging Chinese vacation market and captivating completely new guest groups."

While AIDA's on-board services have been geared to German-speaking guests, with AIDAbella the company will be addressing the needs of the Chinese market.

"The essence of our product, for which AIDA stands, will still be preserved. However, we have taken a very close look at what connects the Asian guest with Germany," said Eichhorn. "What premium products does he or she prefer? What cultural differences, including those relating to consumption habits, do we need to keep in mind? Since we are part of Carnival Corporation's Costa Group, which includes AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises, our colleagues at Costa Asia will be supporting us with their know-how, particularly in the area of sales and human resources."

The cruise ship AIDAbella – 826 feet long and 105 feet wide – has 1,025 staterooms, 457 of which are balcony staterooms and suites. The ship was christened by top model Eva Padberg on April 23, 2008. It will be ready for deployment in China when it goes to dry dock at the beginning of 2017.

One of the ship's most striking features is the Theatrium, the vibrant heart of AIDAbella, which will feature popular shows. There are also bars, the casino and various stores carrying premium German and international brands. In the seven on-board restaurants, Asian cuisine will come together with high-end German dining. The restaurants all merge into a single, unique sensory experience across three decks.

The youngest guests will have a dedicated area with a pool and separate sundeck at the supervised AIDA Kids Club. AIDAbella caters to teenagers as well. They will have an area of their own with state-of-the-art digital entertainment technology.

The company will announce further details in the near future.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 52.57 - 1.83%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.77 - 0.61%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.31 - 1.70%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 57.75 - 7.86%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship was the first to provide passengers Internet access?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What unique public room architectural feature was planned and implemented on Celebrity Cruises’ Mercury only to be subsequently removed prior to the ship's maiden voyage - and why?

Answer - There were 2 levels of dining room connected to the bridge of the Mercury. After Royal Caribbean purchased Celebrity the bridge (which was already in place) was removed.
courtesy of Janice McCcormack


Cruise News - November 2, 2015

Royal Caribbean Orders Fifth Quantum-Class Vessel
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Meyer Werft in Germany to order a fifth Quantum-class ship for delivery in the Fall of 2020.

Quantum of the Seas, Sails Into New York Harbor"It is such a pleasure to announce the order of another Quantum-class ship as we are welcoming Anthem of the Seas to North America," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "These ships have been received with excitement, and performed exceptionally well, across the globe. We fully expect that momentum to continue as we add to this innovative class of ships."

"At Royal Caribbean we are focused on continuously improving efficiency and sustainability, and the fifth Quantum class vessel will be clear evidence of this," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Of equal importance is our ability to consistently surpass guest expectations, and we are harnessing the power of the latest technology to do so on this ship."

Based upon current ship orders, projected capital expenditures for full year 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are $1.6 billion, $2.4 billion, $0.5 billion, $2.5 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.

Capacity increases for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are expected to be 5.4%, 6.4%, 3.4%, 3.7% and 6.6%, respectively. These figures do not include potential ship sales or additions that we may elect to make in the future.

Holland America Announces Upgrades For Line's Signature- and Vista-Class Ships
As part of a $300-million brand enhancement initiative, Holland America Line is planning exciting enhancements to its top staterooms with new furnishings, decor, amenities and upgrades for all suites on the line's Signature-, Vista- and R-Class ships. The first ships to undergo the suite transformation will be ms Eurodam and ms Oosterdam, followed by ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Westerdam, ms Zuiderdam and ms Noordam. Additionally, ms Amsterdam, ms Rotterdam, ms Volendam and ms Zaandam will receive the suite enhancements as they head into their scheduled dry docks over the next few years.

Holland America Announces Upgrades For Line's Signature- and Vista-Class ShipsEurodam is scheduled to go into refit Dec. 7-20, 2015, at Freeport, Bahamas, and Oosterdam will head into dry dock April 3-18, 2016, at Fincantieri's yard at Palermo, Sicily.

"Our suites are the epitome of luxury and pampering, and the new amenities and upgrades will ensure that our suite guests will continue to enjoy the finest in cruise accommodations," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "We have an ongoing program in place to keep our ships looking fresh, but dry-docking gives us an opportunity to take enhancements to the next level to ensure we deliver the elements that make up the Holland America Line cruise experience."

The main living area in each suite will be refreshed with a new sofa, lounge chairs and desk chair. A stylish new headboard, new carpet and wall coverings will bring a contemporary feel to the suites, while new soft goods — including a privacy curtain, drapery, bed runner and bed skirt — add a touch of elegance. A new quartz stone top on the desk, dresser, nightstands and makeup vanity, along with new vanity lighting, enhance the cosmetic transformation.

Electronic upgrades include a new USB outlet added to the bed's headboard, bedside LED lights that facilitate late-night reading, upgraded electrical outlets and a lighted closet rod that makes it easy to select the day's attire. A fully new interactive television system also is set for installation, with complimentary movies on demand, as well as easy access to the daily program and shipboard information including restaurant overviews, spa services and guest billing. Suite bathrooms also will receive a makeover. A wall of designer glass tile serves as a backdrop to the new vanity area that includes new stone tops, modern faucets and under-mount sinks. Other enhancements include new contemporary mirrors with integrated side-by-side LED lighting, stylish floor tiles, as well as a nightlight which enables guests to easily find their way in the dark.

Starting in January 2016, all suites across the fleet will receive new amenities to complement the strong offering of amenities that already includes priority embarkation, disembarkation and tender service; exclusive use of the Neptune Lounge for Pinnacle and Neptune Suite guests; private breakfast service in the Pinnacle Grill; and complimentary laundry and dry cleaning services. New additions feature a premium duvet, superior bathrobes and slippers, Bose docking station, binoculars for use during the voyage, complimentary mimosas with in-suite breakfast and an in-suite coffee and espresso machine.

Seabourn Reveals More Seabourn Encore Details
Seabourn's newest ship, Seabourn Encore, will soon sail to the world's most desirable destinations. With anticipation building toward the launch in December 2016 and inaugural voyage in January 2017, the award-winning small-ship cruise line is catering to the curiosities of guests with the reveal of striking new exterior renderings of the ultra-luxury vessel..

Seabourn Reveals More Seabourn Encore Details"Detail by detail, the creation of Seabourn Encore has been exciting to behold and share. The new exterior renderings now posted on the ship's dedicated microsite put Seabourn's newest addition in perspective, and represent another milestone in the evolution of small-ship cruising," said John Delaney, Seabourn's senior vice president, marketing and sales.

Seabourn Encore will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service by close to one staff member for each guest on board. A sister ship, Seabourn Ovation, will join the fleet in 2018.

Seabourn Encore is being fashioned by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, with contemporary interiors and modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Carnival Corporation Celebrates New Amber Cove Grand Opening
Carnival Corporation & plc today celebrated the opening of its new Amber Cove cruise port in the Dominican Republic with a grand opening ceremony.

Several key officials from various organizations attended the event including: Danilo Medina, president of the Dominican Republic; Francisco Javier Garcia, minister of tourism for the Dominican Republic; Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation; and Jeffrey Rannik, president of B&R Group.

Carnival Corporation Celebrates New Amber Cove Grand Opening Featuring a two-berth port and a 25-acre landside development nestled in a picturesque cove, Amber Cove will provide cruise guests from eight of Carnival Corporation's brands with a convenient gateway to the newest Caribbean destination -- the Puerto Plata region on the island's north coast. Referred to as the "Amber Coast," the region is known for the friendliness of its people, its history and culture, and the beauty of its beaches, mountains, forests, waterfalls and rivers.

The port also re-opens the spectacular Puerto Plata region to regular cruise ship visits for the first time in nearly 30 years, adding a new and exotic destination to the Caribbean, the world's most popular region for cruising.

Following the first visit by the Carnival Victory on October 6, additional ships from Carnival Cruise Line and seven additional Carnival Corporation brands are scheduled to make calls on Amber Cove -- AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Fathom, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises. Notably, Amber Cove will be the first destination for the inaugural voyage of Carnival Corporation's new social impact travel brand Fathom, which is scheduled to depart from PortMiami on April 10, 2016. In its first full year of operation, the eight Carnival Corporation brands will make 140 calls on the port with 23 ships.

Set in a cove among a mountainous and lush tropical landscape, the port features dramatic architectural elements that reflect the area's storied Victorian and Colonial past. The waterfront welcome center hosts a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of unique food and beverage establishments featuring a variety of specialty dishes of the north coast along with an artisanal coffee shop that brews and sells locally grown coffee. At the Sky Bar perched atop a 60 foot lush hill, guests can enjoy panoramic views of the port and cove.

The port also features a zip line and complimentary pool area with a swim-up bar, children's splash pad and water slides. Guests can also rent cabanas, some built over the water and some built on a lush hill providing amazing views.

"We are always looking for new ways to create wonderful vacation memories for our guests, and we cannot wait to share the excitement of opening our new Amber Cove cruise port," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "We know our guests love the Caribbean, and today celebrates our beautiful new port and the beginning of us bringing our guests to one of the most unique, spectacular and historic regions in the Caribbean. We have worked closely with the local tour operators to offer more than 40 unique shore excursions, giving our guests plenty of options for exploring and enjoying the island."

Added Alan Buckelew, chief operations officer of Carnival Corporation who also attended today's ceremony: "It is an honor to bring Carnival Corporation guests to Amber Cove, which is absolutely beautiful, and to reestablish regular cruise visits to the Puerto Plata from major cruise brands for the first time in nearly 30 years. It is just as exciting to know that we will be bringing guests to the newest destination in the Caribbean, the world's most popular region for cruising. We are all looking forward to Amber Cove and Puerto Plata quickly becoming a very popular port of call."

The Amber Cove port is located in the heart of the Dominican Republic's north coast just outside the historical town of Puerto Plata, which was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. The region's amber mines are considered some of the richest in the world, as Dominican amber is 90 percent clearer than others and has 10 times more insects than amber found in the Baltic. Puerto Plata was a filming site for the original "Jurassic Park," which was loosely based upon the unique features found in amber stones.

Anthem of The Seas Makes Her New York Debut
Royal Caribbean International's most innovative ship, Anthem of the Seas, sailed into New York Harbor today where she will make Cape Liberty Cruise Port her permanent year-round home. This newest New Yorker aims to redefine the cruise experience by bringing the most advanced entertainment, adventure and technology to guests. With offerings like the North Star, a glass observation capsule that takes guests high above the ocean, New Yorkers might even have a new view of the Statue of Liberty. Anthem of the Seas will take guests to destinations in the Caribbean providing a vacation experience incomparable to anything else in town thanks to the game-changing features found only on Royal Caribbean.

Anthem of The Seas Makes Her New York DebutShe is a technologically advanced, thrill or chill as you command, entertainment destination at sea. Guests can choose a breathtaking, panoramic view of the world from 300 feet above sea level in Anthem's iconic North Star; get the blood pumping in RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea; or go for a whirl at SeaPlex, the largest indoor active space at sea that is complete with bumper cars, trapeze school, roller skating and more. Soak in the inspiration of an extraordinary lineup of multi-dimensional entertainment in a variety of state-of-the-art venues, including Two70, where a combination of live performers and technology come together to deliver spectacular shows and events. The Royal Theater is home to the ship's two main shows, "We Will Rock You" and "The Gift," while Music Hall, the hottest live music venue at sea, keeps guests rocking and dancing the night away.

Royal Caribbean sails the most hi-tech ships in the world using technology both to entertain guests and to enable them to enhance their experience. VOOM, the fastest internet at sea, makes it possible for guests to stream their favorite content, surf, connect and share their brag-worthy moments just as they would on a land based vacation or road trip. RFID technology allows them to track their luggage from curbside to stateroom, and virtual views streamed to interior cabins provide a window on the world. Thirsty? Robot bartenders in the Bionic Bar serve up mean cocktails along with their very-own saucy one-liners.

Cultural voyagers who enjoy adventures for the palate will not be disappointed by the robust culinary experience on Anthem of the Seas which includes Michael's Genuine Pub from James Beard award-winning chef Michael Schwartz as well as Jamie's Italian by world renowned chef Jamie Oliver. Guests also will appreciate the variety and flexibility of the dining options onboard by easily customizing their onboard dining experience to best meet their varying preferences. An all-new Dynamic Dining experience gives guests a selection of 18 restaurant concepts, including five complimentary main dining restaurants (including one for Suite guests only), along with the opportunity to choose between Dynamic Dining Choice, which allows guests to decide when, where, and with whom to dine each evening, and Dynamic Dining Classic, which is designed for those who prefer a more traditional experience. In addition, Anthem of the Seas features a lineup of specialty dining restaurants, such as Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, Izumi, Chop's Grille and more.

Anthem of the Seas will sail to The Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti, Grand Cayman, Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Barbados, Martinique, and St. Maarten offering guests the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the destinations they visit. Itineraries vary from seven- to twelve-night sailings.

Princess Anne Joins Honoured Guests onboard Queen Mary 2
HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, Patron of the UK's National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), was the special guest at an exclusive New York luncheon, sponsored by Cunard, on Thursday, 29 October in support of the world's most iconic warship, HMS Victory.

Princess Anne Joins Honoured Guests onboard Queen Mary 2The event was hosted by Cunard for the American Friends of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (AFNMRN), a notforprofit organization that furthers the special relationship between the British and American navies and supports the NMRN's collections and educational programs. HMS Victory, the centerpiece of the National Museum, is the only 18th century ship of the line in existence and boasts a large following in the United States. The luncheon marked the early stages of an international campaign to secure its long-term future with proceeds from the event to go towards its conservation and preservation.

Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America, who spoke at the event commented, "Cunard's relationship with the Royal Navy dates back to the company's inception in 1840, and throughout time, Cunard has played an integral role in both the US and UK's war efforts. We are honored and thrilled to be able to join forces today with the National Museum of the Royal Navy and be a part of the efforts to preserve the HMS Victory."

During the event, remarks were also made by Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, and Erik Olstein, president of AFNMRN.

The striking backdrop of Cunard's flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2 provided an inspirational setting and was the second such event sponsored by Cunard in support of NMRN during this year, with the earlier function hosted onboard Queen Victoria in April 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.55 + 0.07%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 98.37 - 0.36%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.35 - 2.49%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 63.76 + 0.84%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What unique public room architectural feature was planned and implemented on Celebrity Cruises’ Mercury only to be subsequently removed prior to the ship's maiden voyage - and why?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which liner caught fire in September 1934 and eventually washed ashore on the beaches of Asbury Park, New Jersey?

Answer - Morro Castle caught fire in the Atlantic on a Booze Cruise to Havana. 134 Died and the hulk grounded on the Jersey
courtesy of dip156@yahoo.com


Cruise News - October 26, 2015

Norwegian Cruise Line Takes Delivery Of Norwegian Escape
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery today of the line's largest ship to date, the 164,600 gross ton Norwegian Escape, from MEYER WERFT during a ceremony in Bremerhaven, Germany, after a building period of only 17 months. Norwegian Escape is the first ship in the company's new Breakaway Plus Class, signifying an evolution of Norwegian Cruise Line and bringing to life the brand's promise of freedom and flexibility with a premium experience from bow to stern. Following delivery today, the ship sets sail for Hamburg for the start of her European inaugural festivities. After a two-night stop in Southampton, Norwegian Escape will make the crossing to her year-round homeport of Miami on October 29. The ship will be christened in Miami on November 9.

Norwegian Cruise Line Takes Delivery Of Norwegian Escape"Norwegian Escape's arrival marks a true evolution for our brand - we've capitalized on the best of our Breakaway Class ships and taken freedom and flexibility to the next level with this incredible new ship," said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and chief operating officer. "Once again, the team at MEYER WERFT, along with our new build and operations teams, and all of the ship's officers and crew have done a remarkable job and we cannot wait to welcome guests on board this spectacular new vessel."

"We are thrilled to deliver the first in Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway Plus class," said Bernard Meyer, managing partner with MEYER WERFT. "Norwegian Escape is the newest and most advanced cruise vessel on the seas and we are proud of the team that worked diligently to design and build her."

Norwegian Escape, the largest in Norwegian's fleet of 14 vessels, features an elevated design that makes for a decidedly upscale experience. Quality finishes, curated artwork and the most luxurious The Haven by Norwegian(TM) exclusive ship-within-a-ship suite complex are just a few of the standout features that put Norwegian Escape in a class of her own. Norwegian Escape's Haven is the largest in the fleet and the most luxurious. At the heart of the private enclave on the top of the ship lies a three-story covered courtyard. An expanded forward sundeck with a cantilevered whirlpool, along with a new outdoor dining space in the Haven's private restaurant make Norwegian Escape's Haven the ultimate small ship experience, while still providing the freedom to enjoy large ship dining, entertainment and amenities.

Norwegian Escape's dining options offer guests a mix of complimentary options, signature favorites and new premium specialty outlets. Showcasing all-new upgraded menus across all restaurants, the ship's 11 complimentary dining offerings and signature specialty restaurants Le Bistro, Cagney's and La Cucina rival those of luxury lines, with menu highlights including Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb, Fresh Maine Lobsters and Steak au Poivre with cognac sauce. Two new specialty restaurants from James Beard Award-Winning Iron Chef Jose Garces include Bayamo, a Latin seafood specialty restaurant, and Pincho Tapas Bar. Also new onboard is the Food Republic, a sophisticated food hall developed by Miami-based The Pubbelly Restaurant Group. The combination of choice and quality in dining options onboard and her upmarket design sets Norwegian Escape apart in the contemporary cruise market.

Continuing with Norwegian's commitment to excellence in entertainment, Norwegian Escape features two truly spectacular Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals that headline the Escape Theater: After Midnight, the smash-hit musical that combines the big-band songs of Duke Ellington and the best dancing from Broadway; and Million Dollar Quartet, the smash-hit musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock 'n' roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. In a new concept exclusive to Norwegian Escape, the Supper Club has been re-imagined for an unforgettable dinner and show. For The Record: The Brat Pack(TM) is a critically acclaimed Hollywood night that celebrates classic soundtracks of motion picture masters in a one-of-a kind 360° post-modern cabaret.

Nightlife onboard includes outposts of several popular land-based outlets, including the first-ever Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant and 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar at sea, a music venue and outdoor bar on The Waterfront that features live nightly performances. The District Brew House, a hip, urban craft beer hall featuring an exclusive partnership with Miami's own Wynwood Brewing Company, will serve up more than 24 draft beers while The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar, features an array of immersive wine experiences, focusing on tasting, education, and the enjoyment of wine. Norwegian Escape will also feature Miami's oldest and most legendary bar, Tobacco Road. Norwegian Escape's recreation spaces are unrivaled, with the largest ropes course at sea leading a wide array of activities. This three-story multiplex of heart-pounding challenges complete with two planks and five Sky Rails, zip tracks that allow guests to soar through the air. On the top of the ship, guests will find a redesigned pool deck area that features an open area for sunbathing, a double-deck bar and two new large format LED screens. Norwegian Escape's Aqua Park is the largest at sea and includes a new tandem Aqua Racer slide, complete with a clear acrylic section to further enhance the thrill of this adventure ride. Adding to the family fun, Norwegian Escape features an expanded Kids' Aqua Park with an enclosed slide, rope climb fun zone and spray cannons for kids to splash and play in their own designated space. Along with an expanded Splash Academy youth center that includes dedicated play spaces for specific age groups, Norwegian Escape also offers the line's first nursery for cruisers two and under.

In addition to family oceanview staterooms that accommodate up to five guests, Norwegian Escape's accommodations include Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; and many options for families, multi-generational groups, spa enthusiasts and more.

Carnival Cruise Line To Dedicate Two Ships To Chinese Market
Carnival Cruise Line has announced an initial commitment of two ships to the China market beginning with Carnival Miracle in spring 2017 followed by Carnival Splendor in spring 2018. Both ships will be based in China year round.

Carnival Cruise Line has announced an initial commitment of two ships to the China market beginning with Carnival Miracle in spring 2017Carnival Miracle and Carnival Splendor will offer the memorable, high quality vacation experience Carnival is known for featuring exceptional service and hospitality in a fun and friendly atmosphere. "Carnival is the world's most popular cruise line and our style of cruising appeals to guests of all ages and particularly families," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "We attract more than 4.5 million guests a year and, as the family cruise leader, we also carry more than 700,000 children each year. Multi-generational families also choose to vacation with Carnival more than any other cruise brand. We look forward to bringing our one-of-a-kind, exceptionally popular cruise experience to the Chinese market."

Duffy also noted that Carnival's highly differentiated cruise experience offers a very interactive and participatory style of vacation that brings together the guests and well-trained and motivated onboard team members. "The team brings this experience to life for our guests on every cruise with a high level of respect, service and hospitality. We know this will resonate very well with our Chinese guests and allow us to exceed their expectations," Duffy stated.

Carnival is the worldwide leader in providing cruises of three to five days and this extensive experience in shorter duration cruises will be invaluable in providing Chinese guests with a truly memorable vacation experience. Specific details on the company's China itineraries will be announced at a later time.

Carnival Miracle is a notably spacious ship given its size and more limited guest capacity (2,124 guests) and has a guest to crew ratio of nearly two to one. This allows the ship to uniquely offer outstanding guest service in a very spacious and comfortable environment. The ship offers a variety of popular features including more than 60 percent of accommodations featuring a private balcony.

There are also four swimming pools with a magrodome over the main pool area which provides excellent views and an expansive outdoor area to enjoy a wide variety of activities and entertainment in all weather conditions. Carnival Miracle's two promenade decks offer multiple types of locations for gathering with friends and family, playing games or enjoying a host of other exciting activities and entertainment options.

Extensive enhancements were added earlier this year with the addition of the RedFrog Pub which features a uniquely Caribbean atmosphere with music and entertainment options from this popular tropical region. The Alchemy Bar was added, as well, and skilled bartenders create custom drinks with unique fresh ingredients based on guests' individual tastes and preferences.

Carnival Miracle offers multiple dedicated facilities for children, including an expansive water park. The highly trained staff ensure that the younger cruisers are well cared for and entertained with fun activities throughout the cruise. For the adults, Serenity is a private and comfortable outdoor area restricted to guests age 18 and older. The ship also features an outstanding steakhouse, offering exceptional cuts of dry aged beef and top quality seafood, along with spectacular views. Several areas of the ship, including the casino, shopping and dining offerings will be enhanced prior to the start of China service to cater to Asian tastes.

Carnival Splendor, which enters the China market in 2018, is a larger vessel which carries just over 3,000 passengers and boasts a wide variety of features including an array of outstanding dining, entertainment and other guest-pleasing options. That ship also has four swimming pools, one of which can be covered by a glass magrodome, seven whirlpools, a Serenity area and a variety of dedicated facilities for children in different age groups.

Carnival will be establishing operations in China in partnership with sister company Costa Asia, which has operated in the Chinese market for the past nine years. "Given the combined experience of Costa Asia, along with other sister companies either already in the market, such as Princess Cruises, or entering the market, such as AIDA, the collective scale of Carnival Corporation's Asia operations is unparalleled and enables us to tap into an immense network of resources and expertise as we launch our China program," said Duffy.

Royal Caribbean Reports Strong Third Quarter Results
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today reported better than anticipated third quarter results and raised adjusted earnings guidance to approximately $4.80 per share, mostly driven by strong momentum in the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Announces Accelerated Share RepurchaseRoyal Caribbean also announced a $500 million share repurchase program, and a non-cash write down of $399.3 million associated with the Pullmantur brand.

Looking ahead to 2016, the current order book is better than same time last year for both volume and price.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

Third Quarter 2015 results:
• Net Yields were up 5.1% on a Constant-Currency basis (up 0.2% As-Reported).
• Net Cruise Costs ("NCC") excluding fuel were down 1.8% on a Constant-Currency basis (down 4.4% As-Reported).
• Adjusted Net Income was $628.1 million, or $2.84 per share, versus $492.9 million, or $2.20 per share, in 2014. This excludes the non-cash impairment charge described below.
• The company recorded non-cash impairment charges totaling $399.3 million in the third quarter. These charges relate to Pullmantur's goodwill, the brand's trademark and trade names, and a reduction in the value of select vessels in the Pullmantur fleet.
• US GAAP Net Income was $228.8 million or $1.03 per share, which includes the impairment charges. US GAAP Net Income in 2014 was $490.2 million, or $2.19 per share.

Full Year 2015 forecast:
• Net Yields are expected to increase approximately 3.5% on a Constant-Currency basis (down approximately 1.0% As-Reported).
• NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat to down 1% on a Constant-Currency basis (down 3.5% to 2.5% As-Reported).
• Adjusted EPS is expected to be approximately $4.80 per share.
• "Our business trajectory keeps us solidly on the path to the Double-Double," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Even though we are disappointed to have such a large non-cash charge related to Pullmantur, we are enthusiastic about the overall strength of our brands and our ability to continue our dramatic profitability growth."

SHARE REPURCHASE PROGRAM - Royal Caribbean also announced today that it expects to implement an orderly program to repurchase up to $500 million of its common stock. Royal Caribbean said that it plans to begin with an accelerated share repurchase transaction of $200 million that should be completed by the end of January 2016. Future transactions could include open market purchases or additional accelerated share repurchases. Royal Caribbean said that it expects to complete the program by year-end 2016.

"This share repurchase program, in combination with another year of over 40% earnings growth, and the recent 25% increase in the dividend, exemplify our ongoing commitment to improving shareholder returns, one of our core financial objectives," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer.

PULLMANTUR IMPAIRMENT CHARGES - Royal Caribbean said that it conducts an analysis of the carrying value of its assets on a regular basis. In past quarters, management has acknowledged the weakness in the economies of Latin America, and the impact of this weakness on Pullmantur. Unfortunately, the economic outlook in Latin America has deteriorated further in recent months and, as a result, the brand is re-focusing on its core market of Spain. These factors triggered Royal Caribbean to record a non-cash impairment charge of $399.3 million, primarily related to its goodwill, its trademark and trade names and a reduction in the carrying value of select vessels in the Pullmantur fleet. This eliminates all intangibles at Pullmantur.

As Royal Caribbean right-sizes the brand, restructuring and related charges of approximately $5 to $10 million associated with the new strategy will be booked in future quarters. In addition, as previously anticipated, we will be eliminating the two-month reporting lag for the Pullmantur brand. This will start in the first quarter of 2016, and is expected to be immaterial to Royal Caribbean's results.

All the adjustments will be excluded from our key metrics for transparency and comparability purposes.

"The right-sizing of the Pullmantur fleet will better balance supply with demand for the brand in the Spanish market," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "These changes should put Pullmantur on a more successful course for the future."

THIRD QUARTER RESULTS - Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 5.1% during the quarter, approximately 130 basis points better than the mid-point of previous guidance. Close-in Caribbean and European demand and strong performance in Asia more than off-set further weakness in Latin America. Onboard Revenue Yield increased 10% mainly driven by strong retail and beverage sales and demand for VOOM, the fastest internet at sea.

Adjusted Net Income for the third quarter of 2015 was $628.1 million, or $2.84 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $492.9 million, or $2.20 per share, in the third quarter of 2014. US GAAP Net Income for the third quarter 2015 was $228.8 million or $1.03 per share, which includes $399.3 million in non-cash impairment charges related to the Pullmantur brand. As a means of comparison, US GAAP Net Income for the third quarter 2014 was $490.2 million or $2.19 per share.

Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel decreased 1.8%. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the third quarter was $590 per metric ton and consumption was 339,000 metric tons.

FULL YEAR 2015 - Royal Caribbean said that it raised full year Adjusted EPS guidance to approximately $4.80 per share. Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to increase approximately 3.5%, back in line with the mid-point of January guidance. NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat to down 1% on a Constant-Currency basis.

Year-over-year, Royal Caribbean said that it has made a number of structural changes which are driving a stronger fourth quarter. The growth of the Asia-Pacific region, including Quantum of the Seas sailing in China, boosts earnings in the typically lighter shoulder season. The addition of new capacity, with Anthem of the Seas joining the fleet, efforts to drive incremental Onboard Revenue, and a continued focus on cost efficiencies also contribute to a stronger end of the year.

"As we have reiterated throughout the year, we remain ahead on both pricing and volume versus same time last year," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "While Latin America is stressing yields in the fourth quarter, strong year-over-year pricing in the Caribbean, and the addition of capacity in China, will solidify this fourth quarter as the best in our company's history."

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it expects 2015 Adjusted EPS to be approximately $4.80 per share.

FOURTH QUARTER 2015 - Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be up in the range of 4.5% to 5.0% in the fourth quarter of 2015, and NCC excluding fuel are expected to be down approximately 4.0%.

Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, the company expects fourth quarter Adjusted EPS to be approximately $0.90 per share.

2016 OUTLOOK - The company is experiencing good early booking trends for 2016. Booked load factors and APDs are higher than same time last year and the booking window has extended. Management is excited by the 2016 introduction of Harmony of the Seas starting in Europe next summer and adding Ovation of the Seas to its Chinese platform to take advantage of the strong reception this class of ships has received there. While still early in the booking cycle, the view for 2016 is encouraging, and the company expects another year of solid yield and earnings growth.

"As we turn the corner into 2016 we have our sights firmly set on our 2017 Double-Double targets," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Next year represents a positive step on that journey."

Princess Cruises Introduces The Salty Dog Gastropub
Princess Cruises is pairing gourmet small dishes inspired by pub favorites with craft beers, cocktails and wines with the debut of The Salty Dog Gastropub aboard Crown Princess. The menu offerings, including a signature burger, were developed in collaboration with former executive chef of Umami Burger and current chef of Plan Check Kitchen + Bar in Los Angeles, Ernesto Uchimura, who was recently awarded "Chef of the Year: The Comfort Master," from Los Angeles Magazine.

Princess Cruises Introduces The Salty Dog GastropubPresented within the Wheelhouse Bar nightly, in refreshed surroundings and live entertainment, guests will choose three small plates from The Salty Dog Gastropub menu featuring new twists on classic pub dishes. Plates include Pale Ale Pork Cheeks, Spicy Stout Short Ribs, Wild Mushroom Saute, and Lobster Mac & Cheese, among other delicious options.

The piece de resistance is "The Ernesto" burger from Chef Uchimura – rib eye and short rib beef patty, grilled pork belly, caramelized kimchi, beer battered jalapeno, charred onion aioli, topped with cave aged gruyere cheese.

"The Salty Dog Gastropub is an enticing addition to our onboard culinary offerings and brings yet another unique dining option to our guests," said Rai Caluori, executive vice president of guest experience for Princess Cruises. "Chef Uchimura's signature burger is sure to be savored, along with pub favorites reinvented for a more upscale dining experience."

"A gastropub at sea is an innovative concept and it inspired me to get creative in the galley," said Chef Uchimura. "The Salty Dog Gastropub's menu will not only satisfy comfort food cravings but also offer guests new pub food flavors and tastes perfectly paired with a craft beer or fine whiskey."

Adjacent to The Salty Dog Gastropub, also in the Wheelhouse Bar, is an expansive new, international whiskey bar menu, featuring some of the best Scotch whiskeys, American Bourbons and international whiskeys from areas including Japan, Ireland and Australia. Offerings include Johnny Walker Blue, Bakery Hill Classic (Australia), Connemara Whiskey Irish Cask (Ireland) and Hakushu 12 year (Japan). The menu offers daily specialized whiskey flights, allowing guests the opportunity to taste and compare selections around the world.

The Salty Dog Gastropub and new international whiskey menu, both available in the Wheelhouse Bar, have just launched aboard Crown Princess, and will be onboard Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess in mid-December. A food charge of $19 per guest applies.

The whiskey menu will also be available in the Wheelhouse Bar aboard Dawn Princess, Sea Princess, Sun Princess, Diamond Princess and Golden Princess by the end of 2015, and aboard all ships with the exception of Pacific Princess by the summer of 2016.

Born in Argentina, Chef Ernesto Uchimura is an award-winning chef who stepped into the spotlight as the opening corporate executive chef and partner for the mega brand, Umami Burger. He went on to become founding chef and partner with the opening of Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, where he garnered even more critical acclaim and recognition, including "Chef of the Year: The Comfort Master," from Los Angeles Magazine and "Best Burger" in Los Angeles by LA Weekly. http://www.plancheck.com/

Construction Continues on Carnival Vista in Preparation for Spring 2016 Debut
onstruction Continues on Carnival Vista in Preparation for Spring 2016 DebutCarnival Vista has now moved to the wet dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy where construction continues in anticipation of the ship’s spring 2016 debut.

In today’s photo montage, prefabricated staterooms are being installed throughout the 133,500-ton vessel, the largest and most innovative Carnival ship ever constructed. In total, Carnival Vista will house 1,968 staterooms in a wide range of accommodation categories, from balcony staterooms to spa cabins to deluxe ocean view accommodations featuring two bathrooms and five berths – perfect for families.

Carnival Vista will also offer a number of unique features including a suspended cycling experience called SkyRide and the first IMAX Theatre on a cruise ship, as well as exciting food and beverage concepts like the New England-inspired Seafood Shack and the RedFrog Pub housing the line’s first on-board brewery.

Carnival Vista is set to debut in Europe May 1, 2016, and, following an inaugural Mediterranean cruise season, will reposition to New York for a pair of voyages before launching year-round Caribbean service from Miami in November 2016.

Princess Anne to be Honorary Guest at Trafalgar Luncheon on board Queen Mary 2
HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of the UK's National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), will be the special guest at an exclusive New York luncheon, sponsored by Cunard, on Thursday 29th October in support of the world's most iconic warship, HMS Victory.

The luncheon marks another milestone in Cunard's celebratory 175th year and coincides with the launch of HMS Victory 250 years ago.

Princess Anne to be Honorary Guest at Trafalgar Luncheon on board Queen Mary 2The Trafalgar luncheon is a celebration of the history of British Sea Power and is hosted by the American Friends of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (AFNMRN), a not-for-profit organization that furthers the special relationship between the British and American navies and supports the NMRN's collections and educational programs.

Following years of mostly stopgap reservation, HMS Victory is entering the most significant phase of conservation in her 250-year history to stabilise and preserve her. The luncheon marks the early stages of an international campaign to secure her long-term future.

The striking backdrop of Cunard's flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2 will provide an inspirational setting to the luncheon whilst she is docked at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. It is the second such event sponsored by Cunard in support of NMRN during this year, with the earlier function hosted aboard Queen Victoria in April whilst the ship was docked in Los Angeles (San Pedro), California.

All proceeds from the event will go towards the conservation of HMS Victory, which boasts a huge following in America. The ship, which legendarily led the British Fleet to victory against the French in 1805, is most famously associated with Admiral Lord Nelson, who was mortally wounded during the Battle of Trafalgar and is now possibly one of the Greatest Britons.

David W. Fleming, Founding President of the AFNMRN, said: "We are thrilled to welcome Her Royal Highness as guest of honor. There is a very special relationship and shared respect between our two navies, past and present. The awesome sea power of the UK's greatest flagship, HMS Victory, and the tactical genius of Admiral Lord Nelson capture the hearts and minds of many Americans."

Luncheon Co-Chair Richard Meadows and President of Cunard, North America said: "This year has been a superb opportunity to showcase and celebrate Cunard's 175th anniversary and the chance to mark this auspicious occasion in the esteemed company of Her Royal Highness and to support probably the world's most famous warship, really is very special. We are delighted to support the AFNMRN in their sterling efforts to help conserve HMS Victory."

Admiral of the Fleet, The Lord Michael Boyce KG GCB OBE DL, Chair of the HMS Victory Preservation Trust, is a special guest at the luncheon travelling to the USA exclusively for the occasion. Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy Professor Dominic Tweddle will also be attending. He said: "The partnership between the NMRN and its American Friends is very strong and we are extremely fortunate to have Cunard's support in this very special year. This will be a remarkable occasion."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.51 + 3.18%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 98.73 + 5.13%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.41 - 1.23
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 63.23 + 3.66%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which liner caught fire in September 1934 and eventually washed ashore on the beaches of Asbury Park, New Jersey?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of the cruise ship that was was overtaken by terrorists in 1985? One passenger was killed in the incident. Also, what was her original name?

Answer - The ship was the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro original the Dutch vessel Willum Ruys
courtesy of Malcolm Scanlan


Cruise News - October 19, 2015

Norwegian Epic Returns to Service Following Extended Dry Dock
Norwegian Epic welcomed guests onboard on Monday, October 19, following a three week dry dock where the ship received significant enhancements across the vessel, including entertainment, dining, technical operations and more. The new features come as Norwegian Epic readies for her winter and summer season sailing the Mediterranean from Barcelona, followed by her return to the United States and her new home in Port Canaveral in the fall of 2016.

Norwegian Epic Receives Shipwide EnhancementsNorwegian Epic now features a brand new entertainment outlet The Cavern Club, bringing the legendary Liverpool venue where the Beatles saw their popularity skyrocket to life. Following the addition of Broadway sensation Burn The Floor earlier this year, Norwegian Epic was outfitted with a second new Broadway show during the dry dock, Priscilla Queen of the Desert - The Musical. Based on the Oscar-winning movie, the show is a heart-warming, uplifting comedy adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of discovering. The Tony Award winning musical features a dazzling array of over 500 award-winning costumes, 200 extraordinary head-dresses and a hit parade of dance floor favorites, including "It's Raining Men," "I Will Survive," and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

Dining enhancements for Norwegian Epic include extensive renovations to the existing Moderno Churrascaria, Cagney's, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Garden Café, Manhattan Room restaurant and Taste restaurant. Many of the onboard dining venues received a refreshed look with new carpeting, reupholstered furniture, new décor and more.

Norwegian Epic was also outfitted with a brand new photo gallery, library and card room. Guests looking for a "cool" adventure can tee up at the new SplashGolf?, which was installed in the ship's Kids Aqua Park. This new attraction combines two age-old elements of fun ?water features and mini golf-- into one completely new, interactive water based game attracting all age groups for more family fun. Additionally, the vessel received major renovations and enhancements to the Mandara spa, Bliss Ultra Lounge, pool deck Marketplace, Epic Theater, Casino, and the exclusive Haven suite complex; including new lighting fixtures, artwork, wall covering, furniture and more.

"Norwegian Epic's extended dry dock has given us the opportunity to not only enhance the ship's public spaces but to add significant new features, including a brand new Tony Award-winning musical with Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a new entertainment venue with The Cavern Club and new activities like SplashGolf," said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "We continue to heavily invest in our current fleet, to ensure that guests have a consistent experience across all Norwegian ships and the freedom and flexibility to create their ideal cruise vacation."

Technical modernizations and maintenance also took place during the dry dock. The ship received a new pair of "Becker rudders" together with more efficient propeller caps, and state-of-the-art energy efficient hull paint. Additional significant technical and safety updates include: lifeboats and tender boats release systems upgrade; thrusters and stabilizers full maintenance, air ducts upgrades as well as improved storerooms' refrigeration systems.

Carnival Corporation to Launch Domestic Chinese Cruise Brand
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced it has formed a joint venture in China that intends to launch the first world-class, multi-ship domestic cruise brand in the Chinese market. Carnival Corporation & plc is partnering with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and China Investment Corporation (CIC) on the new venture aimed at accelerating the development and growth of the overall cruise industry in China, which is expected to eventually become the largest cruise market in the world.

Princess Announces Name of New China-Based Cruise ShipCarnival Corporation & plc and its partners formalized the joint venture agreement at a signing ceremony held today at the Mansion House in London. British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the ceremony, signifying both the importance of the joint venture and the prominent role that the travel and tourism industry will play in China's economic growth plans. Also in attendance were Dong Qiang, chairman of CSSC, and Ding Xuedong, chairman of CIC, along with Carnival Corporation & plc CEO Arnold Donald and Alan Buckelew, global COO for the company.

Under the structure of the new joint venture, Carnival Corporation & plc and CSSC, the largest shipbuilder in China, plan to purchase and operate cruise ships as part of what is expected to be the first multi-ship fleet sailing for a domestic Chinese cruise brand. Specific fleet details will be announced at a later date, but potential plans could include the purchase of both new and existing cruise ships to homeport in China.

The CIC, currently one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds with over $740 billion in assets under management, will serve as a significant investor in the new cruising joint venture with CSSC and Carnival Corporation & plc. CIC's involvement as a strategic partner reinforces China's commitment to developing a strong domestic cruise presence and growing demand for cruising as a key driver of the expanding Chinese tourism market, which is a top priority for longer term economic development in China.

"This cruising joint venture is a significant step forward for the cruise industry in China and a tremendous opportunity for us to work together with CSSC and CIC to grow awareness, interest and demand for cruise vacations amongst domestic Chinese travelers," said Buckelew, global chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation & plc. "Cruising is a relatively new vacation experience in China, and we believe this collaborative approach with our partners is critical to not only developing the country's domestic cruise business, but also supporting China's goal to become one of the world's leading cruise markets in coming years. We are excited about using our scale and decades of experience as the world's largest cruise company to help launch a multi-ship domestic cruise brand that will help spread the enjoyment of cruising to millions more Chinese vacationers."

Today's joint venture announcement builds on recent news from Carnival Corporation & plc that the company is again expanding its leadership position in the Chinese cruise market with growth plans in 2016 and 2017.

The company announced in July that its existing brands already sailing in China – Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises – will continue to expand in 2016 with each brand adding a ship to its fleet in China in 2016, making Carnival Corporation & plc the first global cruise company with six total ships based in China and extending the company's industry-leading market presence in the overall market.

The expansion of Carnival Corporation & plc's China fleet to six ships will represent a 58 percent increase in capacity in China in 2016, including three year-round ships and three seasonal ships in the market. Together, the Costa and Princess brands will potentially offer about four million passenger cruise days in 2016, giving Chinese guests more choice and flexibility in both the contemporary and luxury segments.

Two Celebrity Cruises Ships to Undergo Bold, New Refresh
Building on the multi-million dollar investment in previously "Solsticizing" its Millennium Class ships, now Celebrity Cruises is making even more upgrades to two of these ships, with a series of exciting refreshes that will elevate the modern luxury experience onboard. As the first cruise line to offer a spacious lawn of real, growing grass on the top decks of its ships, Celebrity will expand its lineup of modern, luxurious outdoor spaces this month, when Celebrity Infinity receives a new "Rooftop Terrace" venue – the first in Celebrity's fleet – during a scheduled drydock. Featuring chic, comfortable furniture and unique artistic elements, a large, outdoor film screen and stereo surround sound will highlight this space, which fuses movies with unique food experiences. The drydock work also will broaden Celebrity’s commitment to its Suite Class, with significant renovations to the ships' Penthouse and Royal Suites, and will include conversion of the ship's specialty restaurant to one of Celebrity's signature venues, Tuscan Grille. Celebrity Summit will follow with a similar scheduled drydock in March of 2016.

The new, multi-functional Rooftop Terrace will offer guests a relaxing, open space during the dayWith modular furniture, a metal "garden-like" design, and cabanas, the new, multi-functional Rooftop Terrace will offer guests a relaxing, open space during the day. By night, the space will be illuminated by unique decorative lighting, and a large screen and soundscape will showcase movies and other entertainment. Rounding out the unique outdoor experience will be a variety of specially curated food options available for purchase and presented in unique serving vessels, inspired by the entertainment content, the destination, or the occasion. The Rooftop Terrace will be on the 12th deck of the ship, at the aft end. The Rooftop Terrace will officially open on December 5, 2015.

"The Rooftop Terrace is a brand-new way to enjoy the great outdoors on a modern luxury vacation," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "The popularity of our Lawn Club venues has shown us that some of the richest moments our guests enjoy are when relaxing in beautiful outdoor spaces. In creating the Rooftop Terrace, we wanted to create a hot spot where guests can kick back under the stars in the middle of the ocean, with amazing entertainment and food."

As part of the $16 million refresh plan, Celebrity is investing heavily in its Suite Class experience on Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Summit, as every Penthouse and Royal Suite will receive new glimmering fixtures, marble surfaces, and comfortable seats in the bathrooms. The rest of the suite will get refreshing touches like new carpeting, drapes, and bed linens.

"We want these suites to be so luxurious and comfortable that it's difficult for guests to leave at the end of their vacation," Lutoff-Perlo said. "We want the entire ship to turn heads."

Conversion of Celebrity Infinity' S.S. United States restaurant to Tuscan Grille, Celebrity's popular, Mediterranean-inspired steakhouse that debuted on its Solstice Class ships, will include complete refinishing of the space and the introduction of a refreshed menu designed to tantalize, including fresh pasta made in-house; an Italian cocktail menu, a first for Tuscan Grille; a wine list focused on the wine-growing regions of Italy; and new foods like artisanal salumi and cheeses; crispy crab arancini with lemon pepper aioli; grilled branzino with spinach and olive oil; swordfish with Castelvetrano olives, fennel and white wine; and oven-roasted USDA Prime dry-aged steak. Guests who are currently booked in the S.S. United States for sailings beginning on October 29, 2015 or later, will be given the first opportunity to cancel their reservations in order to rebook in Tuscan Grille. On Celebrity Summit, The Normandie will be converted into Tuscan Grille. Guests who are currently booked in The Normandie for sailings beginning on March 19, 2016 or later, will also have first dibs on reservations in Tuscan Grille.

On Celebrity Infinity, the maritime artifacts in the S.S. United States will be featured in a special display area in the casino's entry vestibule. Items include charts, maps, an original place setting, a ship model, and more. On Celebrity Summit's Normandie also features numerous artifacts that will be preserved and displayed in a special area onboard. These include photographs, artistic works, a ship model, and more.

Additional work taking place onboard both ships will include:
• The addition of an enclosed portrait studio similar to that found on Celebrity's Solstice Class ships, Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Equinox
• The creation of a new future cruise sales office, where guests can take advantage of special offers
• A refresh of the Solarium, with new furniture, new floors, and refinished pool tops, and a refresh of finishes in the spa café
• The removal of the themed décor in the ship's casino

Celebrity Infinity enters drydock on October 15 and will emerge on October 29, 2015, before sailing several Panama Canal itineraries leading up to December 5. Then, Celebrity Infinity will begin its South America season, which will be followed by an Alaska season beginning in May 2016. Celebrity Summit will sail 7-night Southern Caribbean itineraries this winter, both before and after her drydock from February 27 to March 12, 2016, before heading to Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey in April, for her summer season of 7-night cruises to Bermuda. Both drydocks will take place at Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean Launches New Marketing Campaign - "Come Seek"
Royal Caribbean International sails 23 ships to more than 250 destinations around the world delivering the world’s best vacation for adventure seekers on the most innovative vessels at sea. The cruise line is launching a new brand campaign inviting these seekers to “Come Seek” their own experience filled with adventure, exploration and discovery.

Royal Caribbean Launches New Marketing Campaign“Come Seek” reflects the brand’s adventurous spirit by placing the traveler’s personal experience and point of view at the heart of the campaign. It also showcases the essence of the experience that the brand has been delivering for more than 40 years. Known for its innovation – including the revolutionary Oasis- and Quantum-class ships – and delivering many industry-firsts from ziplines and rock climbing walls, the FlowRider surf simulator and the RipCord by iFly skydiving experience, to leading technological breakthroughs like VOOM – the fastest internet at sea, Royal Caribbean continues to transform the cruise experience offering an active adventure with an immersive experience and connectivity that all travelers desire.

“Our mission is to challenge misperceptions and invite the next generation of travelers to experience the unique Royal Caribbean adventure,” said Michael Bayley, president & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Our loyal guests recognize that Royal Caribbean is an adventure designed to inspire and excite the senses. With our new campaign, we will show these new travelers what our guests already know and love.”

Even as the cruise industry has grown on the strength of new ships and modern program offerings, the reality is that a majority of the population – particularly the millennial generation – has never taken a cruise. The new campaign is not only an invitation from Royal Caribbean to “Come Seek,” but aims squarely at conventions that may inhibit continued growth.

The integrated marketing campaign includes broadcast, digital and outdoor advertising, in addition to public relations, social media and direct marketing. The multi-million dollar campaign will debut on Monday, October 19th with a series of broadcast and online ads, including a first-of-its-kind live streaming outdoor campaign delivered via the social platform Periscope.

“Come Seek” is a call to travelers who want more than to sightsee along the beaten path. It’s for adventurers who don’t just want, but require, immersive, culturally rich travel. Royal Caribbean delivers adventure both onboard and with exciting and culturally rich experiences in destinations around the world. Seekers are introduced to these destinations with experiential excursions, such as an Ocean Racing Experience in Antigua, which matches two guest teams of six each with professional yachties in head to head competition, and a Mountain Top Downhill Trek through historic plantation ruins in St. Maarten.

More Crystal Esprit Itineraries Revealed
Just months after its idyllic maiden voyage through the Seychelles, Crystal Yacht Cruises' Crystal Esprit will spend the spring, summer and fall of 2016 cruising some of the Adriatic Coast's most coveted locales. Each of the seven-day voyages aboard the 62-guest yacht can be combined with the following one to create expanded vacations without repeating ports. From the end of March through October of 2016, more than 30 itineraries will cruise to destinations, many of which are only accessible by smaller vessels, captivating guests with the destination's beauty, charm and historical significance.

At their guests' fingertips are water skis, wake boards, kayaks, jet skis, fishing, and snorkel equipment"Crystal Esprit's Mediterranean and Adriatic Coast voyages reflect the yacht itself – sailing in a region that has long been beloved by Crystal guests and travelers the world over, but also exploring destinations in an entirely new way," says Crystal president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez. "These itineraries perfectly blend some of Western Europe's most famously bustling cities with other, more remote and quaint spots."

With a focus on intimate access and active experiences, the sailings will offer new perspectives on currently favored destinations visited by the line's ocean-going ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. All of the itineraries have been carefully crafted to heavily explore several destinations within one or two countries, allowing guests a more immersive cultural experience. Some of the yacht's Mediterranean locales include:

Piran, Slovenia – Set at the very tip of the Slovenian peninsula, which is the heart of what is affectionately known as the world's outdoor playground, but also boasting a beautifully-preserved historic Old Town. Here, Crystal guests can enjoy the bounty of natural adventures and meandering walkways between seafood restaurants.

Kotor, Montenegro – A tradition-rich town that blends imposing walled fortresses with welcoming piazzas. Set at the base of a dramatically sloped mountain, Kotor is loved by history buffs and travelers with a taste for striking architecture and rich cuisine. The spectacular Kotor Fjord that surrounds the destination is, in itself, a "must see" for travelers.

Limassol, Cyprus – Truly a playground for virtually every type of traveler, with its storied past (look for Byzantine castles, Venetian walls and conflicting Greek and Turkish influences); outdoor escapes (with rugged landscapes that beckon hikers and explorers and waters that scuba divers find irresistible); and a vast menu of foods that reflect the many cultural influences on the island.

Kas, Turkey – Where divers will find more than exotic sea life, but also centuries-old shipwrecks to explore in the famously inviting waters. Besides the plethora of outdoor adventures for which Kas is ideal, the town is also populated with ancient walls, theaters and rock tombs that help tell its fabled history.

While Crystal Esprit's itineraries along the Adriatic Coast and throughout the world will venture to new sites for the world's most awarded luxury cruise line, what will remain is Crystal's commitment to a superior standard of luxury for its globetrotting guests. Besides the vessel's all-suite design that boasts a distinct atmosphere of sailing aboard one's own private yacht, Crystal Esprit will be well appointed with elegant amenities; high-end finishes, modern technology and outfitted for adventure. This includes a two-passenger submarine, two 10-passenger zodiacs for special excursions and a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot super yacht tender for special boating adventures. Additionally, at the guests' fingertips are water skis, wake boards, kayaks, jet skis, fishing, and snorkel equipment.

Cruise Lines, Passengers Spent $21 Billion In 2014
Cruise lines, their passengers and crew spent a record $21 billion in the U.S. in 2014, up 16 percent since 2010 and representing a new peak in U.S. cruise industry expenditures, according to a new study from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the largest cruise industry trade association and the leading authority of the global cruise community.

Cruise Lines, Passengers Spent $21 Billion In 2014CLIA's 2014 Economic Impact Analysis, an independent study commissioned by CLIA and conducted by Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA), shows that total contributions[1] of the global cruise industry to the U.S. economy reached a record $46.09 billion in 2014, up 4.5 percent from the previous year. This includes generating 373,738 U.S. jobs paying more than $19 billion in wages and salaries.

"The global cruise industry is a critical contributor to the U.S. economy and we see evidence of the industry's positive effect spreading across the country," said Cindy D'Aoust, CLIA's acting CEO. "In each of the 50 states, we saw cruise lines purchasing goods or services in support of their operations, and passengers traveling for their cruise vacations. The cruise industry is thriving and making an important economic contribution."

Record U.S. Embarkations - According to CLIA's study, more than 11 million cruise passengers worldwide embarked from U.S. ports in 2014, setting a new high and marking the largest increase (11 percent) in ten years.

The top ten U.S. cruise ports[2] accounted for 88 percent of 2014 embarkations, and Florida accounted for 62 percent of all U.S. embarkations. Embarkations in California's four ports totaled 984,000 in 2014, a 49 percent increase.

"Florida remains the center of cruising in the United States, but we saw tremendous growth in California's ports," said D'Aoust. "California's increase was primarily driven by a rebound in cruises originating in Los Angeles and Long Beach. These ports saw increased embarkations as more three- and four-day cruises were offered, addressing cruise consumers' desire for short getaways and additional options."

Cruise Industry Growth Not Limited to the U.S. - CLIA's study shows that globally, demand for cruising worldwide increased 68 percent in the last ten years, from 13.14 million passengers in 2004 to 22.04 million passengers[3] in 2014. Since 2013, demand grew 3.4 percent. Globally, cruise industry expenditures generated $119.9 billion in total[4] output, supporting 939,232 full-time equivalent employees who earned $39.3 billion in income.

"The cruise industry is truly a global and dynamic industry," said D'Aoust. "We've enjoyed progressive growth over the last 30 years, driven initially by demand from North America, which expanded to Europe, Australia and now Asia. As a result, the cruise industry today impacts the global economy, generating jobs, income and business growth in all regions of the world."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 51.86 + 2.98%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 93.91 + 1.09%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.44 + 1.61
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 61.00 + 2.02%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the cruise ship that was was overtaken by terrorists in 1985? One passenger was killed in the incident. Also, what was her original name?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What does the "X" on Celebrity's ship funnels stand for?

Answer - The "X" on Celebrity's ship funnels stand for the first letter of Celebrity Cruises' greek founder family name Chandris. The CH in greek is an"X".
courtesy of Martin Roy


Cruise News - October 12, 2015

Princess Announces Name of New China-Based Cruise Ship
Princess Cruises announced today that its ship now under construction, a sister ship to Royal Princess and Regal Princess, will be named Majestic Princess. The new ship will be based in China year-round beginning in summer 2017 and become the first vessel built specifically for Chinese guests incorporating a unique blend of international and Chinese features.

Princess Announces Name of New China-Based Cruise Ship"Royal Princess and Regal Princess were named after iconic previous vessels, while Majestic Princess will carry a name that was chosen by our global employees," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "The name Majestic Princess is well suited to the Princess Cruises experience in China, and she will offer a truly magnificent experience to our Chinese guests," added Swartz.

Befitting her dedication to the Chinese market, Majestic Princess will also carry a Chinese name on the hull, ????? (Shèng Shì Gong Zhu Haò) – an interpretation selected by Carnival plc's China employees, which has the suggestive meaning of "Grand World" or "Grand Spirit."

The 143,000-ton vessel, Majestic Princess, is being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. She will be home-ported in Shanghai, carrying 3,560 guests for cruises to Japan and Korea, and will offer many of the special features that have made Royal Princess and Regal Princess so popular and distinctive. These include a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; the unique over-the-ocean SeaWalk - a glass-floor walkway extending 8 meters (28 feet) beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; and the special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds guests in a curtain of light.

"We're excited that Shanghai will be welcoming this newest, most advanced addition to the Princess fleet, as it represents our brand's long-term commitment to the continuing growth of the China market," said Swartz.

Majestic Princess will offer the international flavor of cruising with Princess, drawn from the brand's award-winning expertise as the world's leader in premium destination cruising. The cruise ship's cuisine will span the globe, serving authentic dishes from Italy, France, North and South America, Southeast Asia, Japan and China – all freshly prepared onboard. Guests will enjoy a festival celebrating dance, music and crafts of exotic cultures; an array of international guest entertainers; and Las Vegas-style production shows starring a cast of singers and dancers from around the world.

"Every day, around the world, our guests create lifelong memories from authentic experiences while enjoying freshly made cuisine designed to bring each destination to life," added Swartz. "Majestic Princess will allow us to bring the best the world has to offer to more Chinese guests, for an unparalleled premium and international vacation, inspired by our passion for the many places we sail."

Like all Princess cruises in China, Majestic Princess will showcase the brand's exclusive Princess Class experience, designed specifically for the Chinese market. Delivered by the ship's extensively trained international crew, these Princess Class enhancements enrich the travel experience of each cruise guest: authentic, classic events like the World Leaders Dinner and Traditional English Afternoon Tea; special culinary experiences such as the Lobster Grill, Ultimate Balcony Dining, and an ocean-view hot pot dinner option; and an unparalleled duty-free shopping experience, featuring leading designer brands.

The cruise ship will also offer Princess' signature Movies Under the Stars, with the largest outdoor screen at sea, and the exciting Princess WaterColor Fantasy fountain and light show. Accommodations will be configured to appeal to families and multi-generational travelers; all outside staterooms will have private balconies. Additional details about the new ship's features and deployment schedule will be announced over the coming months.

Norwegian Cruise Line Announces Its Entry To The China Cruise Market
Norwegian Cruise Line will introduce the first purpose-built ship customized for the China market in 2017, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq: NCLH) CEO Frank Del Rio announced today during the CruiseWorld China summit in Shanghai. Currently under construction, the new ship is designed specifically for the China market with accommodations, cuisine and onboard experiences that cater to the unique vacation preferences of Chinese guests.

Norwegian Cruise Line Announces Its Entry To The China Cruise Market"Our new purpose-built ship for China will have characteristics that are authentic to Norwegian Cruise Line and yet distinctively Chinese in all of its sensibility," said Del Rio. "With this new ship, Norwegian will unquestionably offer our Chinese guests a superior product and introduce a new standard of innovation and excellence into the marketplace, with an unrivaled level of customization for the Chinese consumer. It will perfectly suit what modern Chinese travelers value from an upscale cruise experience." vNorwegian Cruise Line will introduce the first purpose-built ship customized for the China market in 2017. Currently under construction, the new ship is the second in the line's Breakaway Plus Class and is designed specifically for the China market with accommodations, cuisine and onboard experiences that cater to the unique vacation preferences of Chinese guests.

The new ship will be the second of Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway Plus class and features the line's unique style of cruising known as Freestyle Cruising. Aboard NCL ships, Chinese guests will indulge in a resort-style vacation experience, with the freedom and flexibility to joyfully spend time doing whatever they wish, from enjoying world-class entertainment to fine Mandarin, Cantonese and Continental dining; from duty-free luxury shopping to participating in any number of incredible first-at-sea activities onboard; all on their own time schedule.

Norwegian Cruise Line is widely recognized as the leading innovator in the cruise industry. Not only will Norwegian Cruise Line's new ship offer the highest-level of purpose-built customization, it will clearly be the most innovative ship ever built exclusively for the China market. With a capacity of 4,200 guests, this new Breakaway Plus-class vessel will provide the same sense of freedom and flexibility found on all Norwegian Cruise Line ships, but with experiences and amenities designed specifically with Chinese guest in mind. The level of customization will go beyond the physical design of the ship. Working with partners in China and local experts on the subtleties of Chinese culture, Chinese guests who sail on this new ship will be provided with an unmatched quality-level for service, cuisine, entertainment and overall experience that is simply not available in the China market today. Additional details, including the ship's name, homeport, accommodations, dining and entertainment will be shared in the coming months.

To better support the company's expansion efforts in China, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has opened offices in Beijing (Guomao CBD) and Hong Kong (Quarry Bay) and today opens its Shanghai office in Xintiandi. These China-based offices support all three brands in the company's portfolio – Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises which span the upper end of the contemporary, premium, and luxury cruise categories and relevant to each segment and each stage in the Chinese consumer life cycle.

"Our China offices house a dedicated leadership team uniquely focused on ensuring the success of our local travel agent partners, which is crucial to the success of our expansion in what will soon be the world's second largest cruise market," said Del Rio. "These offices will provide sales and marketing support to our travel partners whose customers not only wish to sail on our new China-based ship, but also on any of the incredible voyages around the world offered across our portfolio of brands."

The new ship will be delivered in Spring 2017. Norwegian will take delivery of the line's first Breakaway Plus class ship, Norwegian Escape, next week on October 22. Two additional ships in this class are on order for delivery in 2018 and 2019.

Carnival Corporation Expands to Four Cruise Brands in China
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced plans to further expand its operations in China with the deployment of two additional cruise brands in China in 2017. Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises will join Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises in the Chinese market, making Carnival Corporation the first company to operate four brands in China – which is expected to eventually become the world's largest cruise market based on surging demand for cruise vacations by Chinese travelers.

Carnival Corporation Expands to Four Cruise Brands in ChinaAs a result of Carnival Corporation's expansion in China in 2017, four of its 10 brands will have at least one homeported cruise ship in China, further bolstering the company's industry-leading presence in the market. The plan to deploy two additional ships – one new ship each for both its Carnival and AIDA brands – and operate four total brands in China in 2017 embodies Carnival Corporation's long-term, multi-brand strategy to provide Chinese travelers with a variety of vacation options and experiences to meet growing demand across all segments of the Chinese market.

"We are excited to introduce our Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises brands to our fleet in China, giving us a total of four global cruise brands in the market and a unique opportunity to provide a diverse lineup of brands and cruise offerings to Chinese guests who are looking for a great vacation experience," said Carnival CEO Arnold Donald, who was in Shanghai to announce the news at the 10th Annual China Cruise Shipping and International Cruise Expo (CCS10). "As we execute our multi-brand growth strategy in China, we are emphasizing choice and variety in our offerings to match the different tastes and preferences of Chinese travelers."

Added Donald: "As more and more Chinese are discovering why cruising is the best vacation experience, they are having a great time on our Costa and Princess brands, and we look forward to even more Chinese travelers enjoying vacations on our AIDA and Carnival brands. This is an exciting time in China for the cruise industry, and as the world's largest cruise company and the first global cruise operator in China, we are more committed than ever to helping China become one of the world's most popular regions for cruise vacations."

Further details on plans for Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises to enter the Chinese market in 2017 will be announced soon by each brand.

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said: "We greatly look forward to introducing Chinese guests to the exceptional vacation experience that has made Carnival the world's most popular cruise line with more than 4.5 million guests a year. With cruise demand rapidly increasing in China and our ability to work in partnership with other Carnival Corporation brands to leverage our collective experience and scale, it provides an outstanding opportunity for Carnival Cruise Line to enter the Chinese market."

Added Felix Eichhorn, president of AIDA Cruises: "We are honored to join our Carnival Corporation sister brands in China in 2017, including Costa Cruises, which pioneered cruising in China for the entire industry back in 2006. We look forward to offering Chinese guests our authentic AIDA experience of German style on the seas. By focusing on the interests of our guests in China, there is a significant opportunity to grow cruising demand for our brand, Carnival Corporation and the industry at large."

Carnival Corporation announced in July that its existing brands already sailing in China – Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises – will continue to expand in 2016 with each brand introducing a new ship to its fleet in China in 2016, making Carnival Corporation the first global cruise company with six total ships based in China and extending the company's industry-leading market presence in the overall market.

The expansion of Carnival Corporation's China fleet to six ships will represent a 58 percent increase in total capacity in China in 2016, including three year-round ships and three seasonal ships in the market. Together, the Costa and Princess brands will potentially offer about four million passenger cruise days in 2016, giving Chinese guests more choice and flexibility in both the contemporary and luxury segments.

Building on its expanding presence in China in 2016, Princess Cruises, a leader in worldwide destinations, just announced last week the name of its new ship that will be based year-round in China when it is introduced in summer 2017. Based in Shanghai, the all-new Majestic Princess will be the first year-round cruise ship built specifically for Chinese guests incorporating a unique blend of international and Chinese features.

Carnival Corporation is also exploring potential joint ventures in China with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and China Merchants Group (CMG) designed to accelerate the growth of the overall cruise industry in China, including the possibility of launching a world-class Chinese domestic cruise brand, building new ships in China, and supporting port and infrastructure development. These efforts support Carnival Corporation's commitment to help China realize its goal to develop cruising as a key economic driver for its economy and become one of the leading cruise markets in the world.

Additionally, to underscore the company's commitment to the region and developing the strong growth opportunities for cruise vacations across Asia, Carnival Corporation recently announced Michael Ungerer as chief operations officer for Carnival Asia, a newly created position for the company that became effective Sept. 1. Ungerer, formerly president of AIDA Cruises, will help lead the execution of Carnival Corporation's growth plans across the region, especially in China.

Alan Buckelew, global chief operations officer (COO) for Carnival Corporation, relocated to China over a year ago to more closely oversee Carnival's growing operations in the country and capitalize on the significant opportunities to accelerate growth in the market. Buckelew, who has extensive experience in Asia from nearly four decades in the cruise industry, leads all the company's initiatives in China in this expanded role, while retaining his overall global responsibilities for the corporation, including oversight of all maritime and port operations around the world and other related functions as part of his COO position.

Cunard Reveals Redesigned Queen Mary 2 Staterooms
Queen Mary 2's redesigned Britannia Club Balcony staterooms and all-new Britannia Single staterooms will offer passengers more options and a more elegant, modern stateroom experience. Fresh design schemes and fine details will pay tribute to the original Queen Mary's iconic art deco heritage while keeping this grand ocean-liner at the forefront of luxury.

Queen Mary 2 will receive a wide range of upgrades, including 30 new Britannia Club Balcony staterooms and 15 Britannia Single stateroomsDuring her extensive 25-day refit at the Blohm+Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 will receive a wide range of upgrades, including 30 new Britannia Club Balcony staterooms and 15 Britannia Single staterooms, as well as a comprehensive refurbishing of all pre-existing Britannia Club Balcony cabins.

Britannia Club guests enjoy an elevated experience onboard with large, well-appointed balcony staterooms, all with prime locations as well as the freedom to dine when you choose in the dedicated Britannia Club Restaurant – the perfect setting for those who prefer a more intimate dining experience.

A pillow menu is available to help you achieve the perfect night's sleep, alongside a host of other luxurious touches and amenities including:
• Convenient 24-hour room service
• Nightly turndown service with chocolate
• Penhaligons toiletries
• Soft terry robes and slippers
• Refrigerator, safe and hair dryer
• Satellite TV with multi-language film and music channels

"Catering to the changing tastes of our guests is a priority at Cunard," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. "According to the U.S. Travel Association, solo travelers comprise about 23% of all leisure travelers. In addition, we are seeing a strong demand for Britannia Club accommodations. We have carefully considered these needs in Queen Mary 2's refit by rejuvenating the current Britannia Club staterooms and creating additional accommodations for these respective groups."

Refreshed designs in the Britannia Club and the new Britannia Single staterooms will include softer colour tones to enhance the feeling of space, as well as new contemporary carpet patterns inspired by the geometric diamond designs seen on the original Queen Mary.

Of the 15 Britannia Single staterooms that will be added, nine single cabins will be on Deck 2 and six larger single staterooms will be built on Deck 3L. New single cabins on port side Deck 2 will benefit from increased ceiling height and an illuminated coffered ceiling. New single cabins on port side Deck 3L will feature two unique circular windows with bench seat cushions and a central dressing console table.

"In the remastered Britannia Club Balcony and in the new Britannia Single staterooms, the soft tones will be contrasted with rich imperial blue and antiqued gold highlights to honour Queen Mary 2's art deco heritage," said Andrew Collier, of SMC Design. "We are continuously enamoured by Cunard's distinguished past and its auspicious future, and we endeavour to showcase both through these timeless, relevant and engaging designs."

Britannia Single stateroom guests will enjoy the luxuries of the Britannia experience including, 24-hour room service, nightly turndown service with chocolate and fine Penhaligons toiletries. From organised coffee chats to a host of daytime activities, guests traveling solo will be spoilt for ways to meet new people, brush up on existing talents or to discover new ones.

Liberty Of The Seas Gets A Texas-Sized Makeover
Royal Caribbean International is taking vacation adventures to the next level and giving Texans more to look forward to when the 3,634-guest Liberty of the Seas emerges from an extensive month-long dry dock in February 2016. The extensive bow-to-stern makeover will introduce a slew of Royal Caribbean firsts as well as guest favorites. As the most innovative ship in Texas, Liberty will offer guests unexpected adventures visiting Mexico and the Caribbean from the Port of Galveston.

The addition of a collection of waterslides called the Perfect Storm will include the first ever boomerang style slide at sea, Tidal WaveDuring the dry dock Liberty will receive a Texas-like makeover and bring even more adventure onboard with the addition of a collection of waterslides called the Perfect Storm including the first ever boomerang style slide at sea, Tidal Wave. The new hair-raising slide features a steep drop that propels riders up a near vertical wall for a moment of weightlessness and into free fall. The Perfect Storm also features two new racer slides called Cyclone and Typhoon which will be located at the aft of the ship alongside the Flowrider surf simulator that was initially introduced on the Freedom class of ships. In addition, kids will have an adult-free zone with the introduction of Splashaway Bay, an aqua park featuring an interactive kid's play area with water cannons, geysers and much more.

Liberty of the Seas guests also can look forward to an expanded lineup of tantalizing food options, including modern Mexican cuisine at Sabor featuring a mouthwatering menu of authentic, modern and unexpected Mexican dishes, such as Oaxacan Ceviche of Red Snapper or Spicy Chicken Flautas – to name a few. Sabor diners also can delight in customized guacamole and salsas, made tableside right in front of their eyes, as well as an assortment of tacos, quesadillas and burritos, all made with the freshest ingredients.

Guests also can enjoy Giovanni's Table, an Italian trattoria featuring Italian classics served family style as well as sip on classic cocktails in the R Bar, featuring a sophisticated 1960s vibe, complete with iconic decor and signature cocktails mixed by a savvy and personable mixologist.

Guests can choose from an array of new stateroom options including 26 new Panoramic Ocean View staterooms, featuring floor-to-ceiling glass walls, providing guests with breathtaking, unobstructed views as well as an additional 53 staterooms throughout the ship.

Liberty of the Seas will sail seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries every Sunday from Galveston starting from November 2015 , visiting exciting warm weather getaways in the Caribbean including: Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico; and Roatan, Honduras.

Carnival Corporation Adds Third Berth to Cozumel Pier
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today officially opened an all-new, highly anticipated expansion of its operations in Cozumel, Mexico, adding a third berth to the company's pier at Puerta Maya, the most popular cruise destination in the Caribbean.

With an investment of more than $20 million, the all-new "arm" was added to the company's existing pier to allow three ships to be moored at the terminal at the same time. To mark the occasion, three of the company's ships – Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Triumph – arrived today and became the first trio of ships to use the new three-berth pier. The pier will accommodate any ship across Carnival Corporation's 10 brands, including its next-generation ships.

Carnival Corporation's new three-berth pier at the company's Puerto Maya port in Cozumel, the most popular cruise destination in the... With 3.3 million cruise guests annually, Cozumel is the busiest cruise destination in the Caribbean, the world's largest global cruise market. Carnival Corporation's extra capacity with the expanded pier will allow more ships to call on Cozumel, increasing the number of guests who can visit the destination while also providing a significant economic boost to the local economy. In 2014, about 1.5 million Carnival Corporation guests visited Puerta Maya on 25 different ships originating from eight homeports and two countries across six of the company's brands, and the company expects this to grow over the years with the added capacity at the port.

"Cozumel is the Caribbean's most visited cruise ship destination and consistently receives high ratings from our guests," said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. "So the destination is in demand by our guests, and we are excited about officially opening the third berth to our pier, since it gives our brands greater flexibility for visiting Cozumel and more of our guests the opportunity to enjoy the island."

While the new berth has been in the planning stages since 2005, work started on the new pier in May 2014. The existing two-berth pier was re-opened in October 2008, following an extensive $50 million reconstruction to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 which included destruction of the original pier. The rebuilt two-berth pier and the all-new arm providing a third berth at the pier have been constructed to withstand a threshold category 5 hurricane, in addition to being able to accommodate any ship in Carnival Corporation's fleet.

Official opening ceremony for third berth at Carnival Corporation's pier at Puerta Maya in Cozumel, Mexico"While this is a major milestone for our company, it is also a memorable day for our business partners in Mexico," said Israel. "Without their collaboration, this project would not have been possible, and we extend our appreciation for their openness and cooperation. We are looking forward to how the expansion of our pier will have an important economic impact on jobs and opportunity for locals. Cozumel, one of the jewels of the Caribbean, has come a long way since it was devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma. It is rewarding to see the island flourishing. And now, with today's opening of our third berth, even more of our guests will be able to make Cozumel part of their vacation experience."

The Puerta Maya pier and welcome cruise center is located on the southwestern part of Cozumel, approximately five miles south of San Miguel, the island's largest city. The cruise center houses over 50 different outlets offering apparel, fine jewelry, artwork and other merchandise from recognizable retailers such as Milano Jewelers, Del Sol, Piranha Joe's, Dufry and Diamonds International. The facility also features 15 stand-alone carts where local merchants market colorful handmade crafts, costume jewelry and souvenirs.

In April 2015, the expansive cruise center opened the world's first underwater oxygen bar. Called Clear Lounge, the 13,000-gallon freestanding aquarium provides guests with a unique 20-minute experience underwater. Guests enter the bar wearing a high-tech Sea Trek helmet, a specially designed clear diving helmet, which provides a mixture of oxygen and aromatherapy. Bartenders serve up oxygen-enriched smoothies. The lounge also features the world's first underwater photo booth, complete with a variety of props, from sunglasses to martini glasses. Guests can play games such as Jenga, write on message boards and target practice with high-powered bubble guns.

On-site dining options within the Puerta Maya complex include the Tres Amigos Bar, a theme restaurant inspired by the 1986 hit movie "Three Amigos" starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. The waterfront eatery -- the first of its kind in the Caribbean -- offers traditional Mexican fare, along with an extensive beverage menu.

Also featured is Pancho's Backyard, an outpost of the popular downtown Cozumel eatery featuring magnificent ocean views, as well as Fat Tuesday, a waterfront bar offering frozen drinks and light snacks, along with a DJ and dance floor.

The shore excursion pier, separate from the main pier, allows for quick and convenient access to water-bound excursions serving both the mainland of the state of Quintana Roo and island of Cozumel.

Puerta Maya, one of three cruise terminals in Cozumel, is owned by Carnival Corporation. Carnival Corporation operates five additional global ports, including the newly opened Amber Cove in Dominican Republic; Palacruceros in Barcelona, Spain; Grand Turk Cruise Center in Turks and Caicos Islands; Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Honduras; and Long Beach in California. The company also operates two private island destinations in the Caribbean, Princess Cays and Half Moon Cay. In total, Carnival Corporation cruise ships visit over 725 ports of call around the world.

Cruising For The Health-Conscious Traveler
October is National Plan a Cruise Month and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is sharing the best cruise travel tips for health-conscious travelers. From specialty cruises focused on wellbeing to rejuvenating onboard spa treatments, there has never been more options to stay fit and healthy while traveling on a cruise vacation.

“For years, there has been a misconception that going on a cruise meant leaving your healthy living regimen at home,” said Cindy D’Aoust, Acting CEO of CLIA. “Cruise lines offer a variety of options that allow you to customize your experience, whether a guest wants to focus on health, relaxation, indulgence, or all the above.”

Following is a sampling of the best healthy living offerings currently available on cruise:

1. Make a Healthy Plate: Today, there are more healthy cuisine options aboard a cruise than ever before. Travelers can opt for lighter plated choices to accommodate every diet from gluten-free and low-carb to vegan and buffets that are full of locally-sourced fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.

• AmaWaterways helps passengers stay healthy and hydrated with fruit-infused waters offered throughout their ships, helping travelers boost daily antioxidant intake.
• Cruisers can opt for spa cuisine, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 offers a menu created in collaboration with Canyon Ranch that uses quality carbs, a balance of protein, healthy fats and is free of artificial sweeteners.
• MSC Cruises offers diners lighter, healthful choices at every meal complete with caloric values so it is easy to stay mindful.

2. Get Moving: Cruise lines offer some of the best fitness programs and activities onboard as well as opportunities to experience land-based excursions to stay fit.

• Norwegian Cruise Line brings some of the most sought after land-based fitness options to sea, including FlyWheel, boxing, yoga, TRX and bootcamp.
• Those looking to step outside of the gym can make the most of cruise decks for morning walks or jogs, as well as find active ways to see the sights while in port. For example, AmaWaterways carries 25 complimentary bicycles aboard their European ships that cruisers can use to explore the scenes independently or on escorted bike tours, including rides along the Inn River in Passau, Germany, or Klosterneuberg Abbey in Vienna, Austria.

Soak, Scrub & Sparkle3. Soak, Scrub & Sparkle: Everyone deserves a bit of pampering and there’s no better place to indulge than on a cruise where some of the most luxurious spa treatments can be found on deck.
• Holland America Line’s Greenhouse Spa & Salon (operated by Steiner) offers high-end treatments for hair, skin and body, including seawater hydrotherapy, ceramic lounges modeled after Turkish baths, and treatments that blend exotic cultures including Hawaiian Lomi Lomi and Thai Herbal Poultice Massages.

4. Enlist the Experts: Many cruise lines have top healthy living experts and professionals available for passengers, ranging from personal trainers and spa specialists to chefs focused on healthy cuisine.

• Travelers can surround themselves with experts on specialty wellness and healthy living cruises, such as Avalon Waterways’ Wellness River Cruises that boast world-renowned health and fitness experts and outdoor activities like yoga. Passengers can also attend educational lectures with healthy living takeaways.
• Carnival Cruise Line offers expert-led seminars on a variety of wellness topics, including Detox for Health and Weight Loss, Eat More to Weigh Less and Skincare for the Next Generation.

5. Relax! Relaxation is the key to overall wellbeing, and cruising offers travelers a truly stress-free experience. Cruising allows travelers to unpack their bags and settle in which means there’s more time to meditate in the sunshine and breathe in the salt water air. Stress-free planning and all-inclusive travel make for a relaxed, at peace traveler. Vacations are best spent enjoying new destinations and loved ones, so relax. Soak in the sights, recharge and enjoy a cruise!

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.36 - 0.04%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 92.90 - 0.52%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.48 + 0.00
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 59.79 + 1.37%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What does the "X" on Celebrity's ship funnels stand for?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which Atlantic liner was known by the following nickname: The Ship Beautiful?

Answer - The "ship beautiful" refers to the RMS Aquitainia.
courtesy of Bill Cwiklo


Cruise News - October 5, 2015

Carnival's New Amber Cove Cruise Port in Dominican Welcomes First Ship
Carnival Corporation's newly developed cruise port, Amber Cove, located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, welcomed its first ship this morning. Carnival Victory, from the company's Carnival Cruise Line brand, pulled into Amber Cove with nearly 3,000 guests.

Carnival Corporation to Open $85 Million Port in Dominican Republic in October 2015Located on the northern coast of the Dominican, the Amber Cove port serves as a gateway to the Puerto Plata region, known for its history, diverse beauty and beaches. As the newest destination in the Caribbean, the world's most popular region for cruise vacations, the port's opening marks the return of regular cruise ship visits to Puerto Plata for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Overall, eight of Carnival Corporation's 10 global brands will make calls to Amber Cove in coming months. The official opening of the Amber Cove port will be held on Nov. 2 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The new $85 million facility represents the largest cruise industry investment ever made in the Dominican Republic, and features a two-berth port able to accommodate the largest cruise vessels in operation today. Carnival Corporation has monitored the various stages of the port's construction progress with the use of drones, an innovative development that is being used for the first time as part of the company's port development process. The facility, a joint project between Carnival Corporation and the Rannik family of Grupo B&R, is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation. It will provide approximately 430 local jobs.

"The construction of the cruise port at Amber Cove has been an incredible project for our entire country, as well as the Caribbean region as a whole," said Francisco Javier, tourism director of the Dominican Republic. "Carnival Corporation's investment in Amber Cove has already proven beneficial to the economy, and we expect the investment to have a positive long-lasting economic impact. The new port will also give cruise passengers an opportunity to see another part of the Dominican Republic, our Amber Coast, which hasn't been available as part of cruise itineraries in nearly 30 years. This is a very exciting development."

SS United States In Trouble Again
The Board of Directors of the SS United States Conservancy released the following statement today announcing that despite considerable progress toward finding a permanent home and viable redevelopment plan for America's Flagship, the organization will be forced to sell the historic vessel to a responsible metals recycler by the end of October unless new donors or investors come forward.

SS United States In Trouble AgainThe SS United States is the largest and most advanced ocean liner ever built in her namesake nation. Launched in 1952, the United States was developed as part of a Top Secret Cold War project to build the fastest ship in the world. She still holds the transatlantic speed record. The ship is an iconic symbol of America's post-war power, pride and innovation. The statement appears below: "After much deliberation and consultation, the SS United States Conservancy's Board of Directors has decided to retain a broker to explore the potential sale of America's Flagship, the SS United States to a responsible, U.S.-based metals recycler.

"We have achieved an extraordinary amount of progress in support of the SS United States' potential redevelopment in recent months, including detailed plans, financial models, renderings, and engineering approaches with support from a number of major firms. In so many ways, we've never been closer to saving America's Flagship, but we have also never been closer to losing this irreplaceable piece of our history.

"The Conservancy has been very clear in its communications to its supporters and the media that the carrying costs for the vessel total more than $60,000 per month. While our fundraising efforts have enabled us to meet those continuing obligations to date, thanks to the steadfast support of donors from across the nation and around the world, the financial burdens imposed by the ship's ongoing expenses have become unsustainable.

"The Conservancy continues to do everything within its power to advance an outcome that protects the vessel, preserves her historical legacy, and secures a viable redevelopment program. As we have announced previously, redevelopment negotiations are ongoing. We have identified two potential locations that can accommodate the ship, and we are continuing complex talks with various entities regarding these sites. These ongoing discussions remain subject to confidentiality agreements signed by both parties.

"Despite this progress in our redevelopment negotiations, the timing of additional financial support from our partners may come too late, in the absence of another party willing to support the Conservancy or assume responsibility for the vessel at this time.

"If donors or investors step forward by the end of the month who are ready, willing, and able to help the Conservancy, America's Flagship could still be saved. However, if progress toward a new sales option or an infusion of funds does not occur by October 31, 2015, we will have no choice but to negotiate the sale of the ship to a responsible U.S.-based recycler.

"Given the lead time required to broker the vessel's potential sale, we believe it would be irresponsible to delay the start of this contingency planning.

"Choosing to explore these options was a gut-wrenching decision for the Board, but the Conservancy simply cannot exhaust all of its funds, leaving the organization in debt or with no resources to support its curatorial and education mission.

"We remain deeply committed to honoring the legacy of the SS United States through our curatorial and educational programs, and we will continue to prioritize this important work.

"We take our responsibility to our supporters and to the Conservancy's mission very seriously, which is why we believe that despite recent progress and potentially positive scenarios, this course of action is necessary.

"The sale of the vessel to a recycler is by no means inevitable. We remain hopeful that our developers can continue to advance their efforts or that additional financial support will be found in time.

"The SS United States is a unique and endangered historic landmark that has captivated the imagination of millions. We are determined to do everything possible during these final weeks to try to save her.

"The SS United States' supporters from across the country and around the world have become like family. We have worked together against the odds to keep the nation's last remaining and greatest ocean liner safely afloat. The ship has faced previous dangers and has withstood them, and we hope she can beat the odds again. Anything less would be, as Walter Cronkite once said, "a crime against history." Those interested in making a tax-deductible contribution to the SS United States Conservancy can do so at www.SSUSC.org.

Disney Cruise Line Unveils Ports and Itineraries for Early 2017
In early 2017, Disney Cruise Line returns to favorite destinations in the Caribbean and Bahamas on a variety of itineraries, most from popular Florida ports. Limited-time engagements in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Galveston, Texas, complete the line-up for the first part of the year.

Disney Cruise Line Unveils Ports and Itineraries for Early 2017During these sailings, Disney Cruise Line guests will visit timeless tropical locales, dive into charming island cultures, sunbathe on golden beaches and revel in local marketplaces. Most cruises feature a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island paradise reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests.

Bookings open to the public on Oct. 8, 2015. More details on 2017 itineraries can be found on the Itineraries and Ports for 2017 page of disneycruise.com.

Port Canaveral - With three Disney ships in port and cruise lengths spanning three, four and seven nights, vacationers looking for a Disney Cruise Line getaway in early 2017 have a full menu of options from Port Canaveral. Every sailing includes a day at Castaway Cay.

The Disney Fantasy continues to sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages, while the Disney Dream embarks on three- and four-night cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay. Beginning Jan. 29, the Disney Wonder will alternate similar three- and four-night itineraries.

Miami - To kick off 2017, the Disney Magic continues sailing from Miami with three-, four- and five-night voyages to the Bahamas, plus select five-night Western Caribbean cruises, through March 31.

Castaway Cay awaits guests aboard every one of these Disney Magic sailings. Other Bahamian ports of call include Nassau and Key West, while a stop in Grand Cayman or Cozumel headlines the Western Caribbean itineraries.

San Juan and Galveston - From San Juan, the Disney Magic sets sail on four seven-night cruises to the Southern Caribbean. Departing April 9, 16, 23 and 30, this limited-time engagement includes calls on Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, Antigua and St. Kitts.

The Disney Wonder completes a season in Galveston with two seven-night Bahamian voyages to Key West, Castaway Cay and Nassau on Jan. 6 and 13. From there, the ship embarks on a six-night journey to San Juan on Jan. 20 with stops in Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica.

On Jan. 26, a three-night cruise aboard the Disney Wonder takes guests from San Juan to Port Canaveral, just an hour away from Walt Disney World Resort—the perfect stop for a fairytale land and sea adventure.

Carnival Cruise Line Launches New ‘Fly2Fun’ Air Program
Carnival Cruise Line is launching a new air program that is designed to provide guests with maximum value, choice and convenience when making their air arrangements in conjunction with their cruise.

Disney Cruise Line Unveils Ports and Itineraries for Early 2017The new Fly2Fun program is highly flexible as it allows guests to customize their air reservations with a wide array of options, including the ability to specify their preferred air carrier, departure point, specific flight schedule, and type of accommodation (coach, business, etc.). Immediate confirmation is received once the reservation is made, thus streamlining the vacation-planning process. Flights can also be customized for those who wish to extend their vacation with a pre- or post-cruise stay.

Fly2Fun also includes the Flight Protection Program that ensures guests will be flown to the next port of call to begin their cruise should they miss their departure due to airline mechanical or weather-related issues. Carnival will cover air, hotel, transportation and meal costs for guests to meet the ship in the next port of call.

“Our new Fly2Fun program is a convenient tool that saves our guests valuable time when booking their flights while offering attractive features like the Flight Protection Program that provides peace of mind knowing we’ll fly them to the next port should they miss their cruise,” said Vicky Blanch, Carnival’s director of travel operations.

Two different options are available within Fly2Fun – Flexible Air and Restricted Air. With Flexible Air, guests or their travel agent can book travel on major carriers up to four days prior to sailing with an attractive “Book Now – Pay Later” feature in which payment for air is collected with the final cruise payment. Additionally, there are no change fees if modifications are made outside of 60 days of departure. With the Restricted Air option, tickets are non-refundable. Air tickets must be paid at the time of booking and change fees are based on the airlines’ policies once the ticket is issued.

Fly2Fun must be booked via phone.

Holidays Come Alive at Sea with Royal Caribbean
This December, Royal Caribbean International invigorates the holidays with festive activities and entertainment aboard all ships sailing in the Caribbean. Whether you're looking forward to rockin’ around the Christmas tree with your favorite DreamWorks character or simply spending some quality time with family and friends, the cruise line is inviting cruisers of all ages to immerse themselves in a diverse lineup of holiday celebrations during their vacation.

Holidays Come Alive at Sea with Royal Caribbean“We are all about bringing friends and family together to share an amazing vacation experience and what better time to do that than during the holidays. We are excited to be introducing many new onboard festivities that will further inspire holiday cheer," said Mark Tamis, senior vice president, hotel operations, Royal Caribbean International. "With a wide range of innovative onboard amenities and immersive holiday themed experiences, Royal Caribbean cruises are primed to provide distinct experiences that are ideal for families looking to take the stress out of holiday planning by letting them enjoy a memorable Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s holiday at sea.”

Guests sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise this holiday season will experience new amenities and activities that are sure to excite guests of all ages. Holiday festivities that will get families into the spirit include: classic movie screenings, guest and crew caroling, family arts and crafts and cookie decorating, special holiday-themed Adventure Ocean youth program, upgraded stateroom experiences—including themed and adorned towel animals – a commemorative seasonal souvenir cup from Coca-Cola as well as holiday ice skating aboard select ships.

On ships featuring the DreamWorks Experience guests will have the chance to take holiday photos with Po of "Kung Fu Panda;" Shrek, Fiona and Puss In Boots of "Shrek;" and Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo and King Julien from "Madagascar " who will be adorned in festive holiday outfits. In addition, families can enjoy a special holiday character breakfast where kids of all ages can interact with this special cast of characters.

A special offer for the holiday season, guests can book December sailings through the BOGOHO HOHO! holidays promotion and gift their travel companion in the same stateroom with half off their cruise fare on all open North American sailings. For all eligible sailings departing December 15-31, 2015 or December 15-31, 2016, vacationers also can receive pre-paid gratuities for the first and second guests in the stateroom in addition to half off cruise fare for their second guest. These special holiday itineraries will be featured on cruises departing from nine easy-to-reach domestic home ports, including: Bayonne, NJ; Baltimore, MD; Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), Miami, Port Canaveral, and Tampa, Fla.; Galveston, TX and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.38 + 3.58%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 93.39 = 6.93%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.48 + 3.77
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 58.98 + 2.59%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which Atlantic liner was known by the following nickname: The Ship Beautiful?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
From March 7 to March 21, 1940, New York city played host to a unique gathering of three of the largest liners ever to sail the oceans. Name these three ships.

Answer - The three ships were Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and Normandie.
courtesy of Rob Henderson, Sydney Australia


Cruise News - September 28, 2015

Queen Mary 2's Queens Grill and Princess Grill Suites and Restaurants Upgraded
Queen Mary 2's renowned Queens and Princess Grill suites and restaurants will undergo lavish enhancements in May and June, 2016, ascending to a new level of luxury, sharing company with the world's finest five star hotels. Cunard's iconic flagship will stay true to her classic art deco heritage, while offering updated, crisp, contemporary interiors painstakingly re-designed for today's most discerning travelers, and further solidifying the unique position of these distinctively luxurious at-sea accommodations.

Queens Grill Restaurant RenderingThe Cunard Grills experience affords the line's most selective guests the highest standards of comfort at sea with large, well-appointed suites, all with prime locations and private balconies.

Cunard's Grill guests always enjoy deluxe accommodations and the opportunity to unwind in the sublime comfort of intimate, sophisticated spaces reserved exclusively for them. Queens Grill guests are treated to the apex of luxury and personalized service, with a butler to tend to every need, including unpacking. Grill accommodation also includes thoughtful extras such as dedicated Grills concierge service for both Princess and Queens Grill guests, an amenity selection from bespoke heritage perfumer Penhaligon's, and nine choices of pillow types.

The exclusive benefits of the historic Grills experience will remain unchanged, but all 172 Grills suites on Queen Mary 2 will receive a comprehensive restyling, reconfigured to maximize space, with subtle references to Cunard's unrivaled history, including soothing muted tones and elegant textures with new bespoke luxury carpet throughout featuring design work inspired by rugs from the original Queen Mary.

The Grills dining experience will also be redesigned to elevate what is already the utmost in sophisticated dining at sea. Guests staying in Queen Mary 2's Grill Suites enjoy open seating in the world-renowned Queens Grill or Princess Grill restaurants, both offering extensive a la carte offerings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The new Grill restaurants will each display a distinctive character through design, colour scheme and furnishings, and offer more intimate tables for two, increased space between tables for privacy, and additional loose tables for the ultimate in flexibility and ambiance. Spacious, beautifully redesigned dining rooms with rich, updated decor will be complemented by new culinary options and anchored by Cunard's signature White Star Service.

"Under the moniker, 'Queen Mary 2 remastered,' there will be a host of innovations and enhancements, further confirming our commitment to invest in luxury on a grand scale," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. "Guests will certainly feel the sense of pride and confidence that the refurbishment will exude, befitting of Queen Mary 2's luxury ocean travel experience."

Guests Create Their Own Wine on Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam
Wine connoisseurs and novices alike can experience the art of winemaking at BLEND aboard Holland America Line’s new ms Koningsdam when the ship debuts in April 2016. In collaboration with Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington State’s oldest and most acclaimed winery, the intimate venue will enable guests to blend their own wine and enjoy it at dinner or in the privacy of their stateroom.

Guests Create Their Own Wine on Holland America Line’s ms KoningsdamBLEND — the first of its kind for Holland America Line and the only purpose-built wine-blending venue at sea — will have a tasting table that accommodates 10 guests who can create their own blend from a selection of five barrels of single-vineyard red wine. In addition to participating in the blending process, guests also will learn about wine from the ship’s wine expert, who leads the blending session.

“At the core of every Holland America Line cruise is our desire to offer unique, immersive and innovative experiences, and BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle is all of those things and more,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “The BLEND experience on Koningsdam is designed to appeal to everyone, and it will be exciting for our guests to create an exclusive wine tailored to their personal taste that they can enjoy onboard with our exceptional cuisine.”

After viewing a welcome video by Bob Bertheau, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s winemaker, guests will learn interesting information about the history of Washington wines and winemaking, examine soil samples, and see how different vineyard sites impact the flavors and style of the wine. The Cellar Master also will instruct guests on what characteristics, flavors and nuances to look for in the wine from each barrel.

Guests then sample the five unique wines, featuring such varietals as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the winery’s Cold Creek and Canoe Ridge Estate vineyards, and make tasting notes on what they like about each. The blending begins in a graduated cylinder, with guests determining how much of each wine to include in their personal bottle.

After the personalized wine blend is put into the bottle with a stopper, guests will be able to create their own label to add a personalized touch. The wine will then be sent to The Dining Room or another restaurant, where it will be waiting for the guests to enjoy with their evening meal. Alternatively guests can take the wine blend to their stateroom to enjoy at their leisure.

The wine blending sessions will be held daily for a fee, and reservations are required.

Antarctica, South America & Caribbean Treasures Highlighted On Crystal's 2017 World Cruise Segments
For luxury travelers seeking truly captivating and immersive global experiences, Crystal Cruises' 2017 World Cruise offers one of the line's most comprehensive itineraries to date featuring six abbreviated segments available to sail. The segments, ranging from 10-23 days and each featuring at least one overnight stay, will offer concentrated routes that highlight the distinct culture and natural and historical wonders that enrich each of the countries visited. Focused on the metropolitan cities, quaint villages, less-visited islands and up-and-coming destinations of South America and the Caribbean – plus the first World Cruise visit to Antarctica in 10 years – the 94-day journey sails round-trip from Miami aboard Crystal Serenity, embarking on January 10, 2017.

Antarctica, South America & Caribbean Treasures Highlighted On Crystal's 2017 World Cruise SegmentsFurther incentivizing discerning travelers are Crystal's extended "Silver Celebration Fares," which offer significant savings off the all-inclusive cruise fares, plus up to $500 "As You Wish" spending credits per stateroom for bookings made by December 30, 2015.

"The 2017 World Cruise and its segments are the ultimate opportunity for travelers to experience varied nuances of the destinations with a prolonged amount of time exploring several ports in nearly every country visited," says Crystal's president & CEO, Edie Rodriguez. "Guests who enjoy delving deeper into locales will find that a Crystal World Cruise is the ideal way to do it, with enriching experiences designed by destination experts, plus the luxury and attention to detail that makes Crystal the number one choice of discerning travelers."

January 11 (11 days) – From Miami to Colon, Panama, the cruise explores the many ancient Mayan ruins sites in ports along Mexico's coast, plus the extraordinary coral reefs of Honduras and jungles of Costa Rica.

January 23 (20 days) – After an overnight in Colon, Panama to explore the bustling town surrounding the famed canal, the ship transits through the locks en route to Ecuador – rich in lush forest and world-class seafood – then on to several Peruvian ports (including two maiden calls) and concluding with four days in Chile highlighted by a three-night inclusive exploration of Machu Picchu.

February 8 (23 days) – The epic adventure begins even before boarding the ship, with an inclusive pre-cruise 3-night Extended Land Program to Machu Picchu; then continues as the voyage embarks on 11 days exploring Chile and Argentina, before cruising Cape Horn, Antarctica and the Falkland Islands before returning to Uruguay and Argentina.

March 3 (11 days) – Rich history and tradition blend beautifully with modern nightlife and world-famous beach culture as the sailing visits Argentina and Uruguay, plus 7 nights in Brazil, with overnight stays in Buenos Aires, Buzios and Rio de Janeiro to maximize the renowned social and culinary scenes after dark. The journey begins with an inclusive 2-night, pre-cruise Extended Land Program that affords close-up encounters with Iguazu Falls.

March 14 (22 days) – The intensive Brazilian itinerary also begins with an inclusive 2-night, pre-cruise Extended Land Program that affords close-up encounters with Iguazu Falls, and features a whopping 16 days amidst Brazil's magnificent architecture, winding waterways and bridges, cosmopolitan hubs and breathtaking monuments. Calls to Devil's Island, Granada and Barbados lend some Caribbean flare to the sailing.

April 5 (10 days) – The final segment of the full World Cruise departs Barbados after an overnight stay, then sails through the brilliant waters between Caribbean gems like St. Lucia, Martinique, St. Barts, Samana, Grand Turk and Key West, before concluding on the glamorous shores of Miami.

Carnival Corporation Expands Cruise Industry's Largest Wi-Fi Network
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced that it has expanded its innovative hybrid connectivity system to create the cruise industry's largest Wi-Fi network – and one of the world's largest satellite mobility networks.

With over 31 advanced satellite systems, the company's expanded WiFi@Sea connectivity network features the broadest high-bandwidth internet coverage in the industry currently deployed on 30 of its 100 ships -- far more than any other cruise line company – with further deployment planned over the next several months. In addition, several of its cruise line brands have introduced new plans and pricing packages that make staying connected on a cruise more convenient and affordable – and are improving the guest experience and increasing the number of guests using Wi-Fi while cruising.

Carnival Corporation Expands Cruise Industry's Largest Wi-Fi NetworkExpected to be extended to nearly 40 percent of the company's industry-leading fleet across several of its global brands by the end of 2015, the expanded WiFi@Sea service has led to increased guest satisfaction, higher usage rates and greater number of devices connected during voyages. Carnival Corporation's brands currently using the new features include AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. Building on existing broadband Wi-Fi capabilities already available throughout its fleet of 100 ships, Carnival Corporation is continuing the deployment of its technology solution with plans to expand the new system on the majority of its fleet across its 10 global brands through 2016.

The company's system represents a first in the cruise industry on this scale – providing the broadest high-speed global coverage across dozens of ships coupled with onboard intelligence to enhance the guest experience – a breakthrough technology innovation for overcoming the challenging circumstances of sailing in the middle of the ocean and still providing fast, reliable and affordable wireless internet access for guests.

Expanding the System - The system is a first-of-its kind solution that integrates a combination of advanced satellite systems, onboard software, networking equipment, land-based antennas and Wi-Fi from port connections. The technology is expected to change how millions of travelers stay in touch during their cruise and generate even greater interest in cruise vacations, especially among tech-savvy millennials and people of all ages who want to stay in touch, research destinations or share their vacation experiences via social media.

With the continued rollout of the enhanced connectivity system across the fleet, guests will be able to access the websites, social networks and apps most important to them at speeds up to 10 times faster than those previously available on the company's ships.

"As we continue to enhance our WiFi@Sea system, we implement technologies, packages and overall approaches that will create the best experience and value for our guests wherever their cruise vacation takes them," said Reza Rasoulian, vice president of global connectivity and shipboard technology operations at Carnival Corporation. "We optimize all of our service layers continuously to ensure a great connectivity experience. With this approach, we are giving our guests faster internet speeds without constraining the time they can be online through our packages, which has led to more people than ever using their devices to connect while on our ships and a steady improvement in guest satisfaction ratings as the new plans and pricing are rolled out."

New Packages and Pricing Structure - With the new pricing models, Wi-Fi packages are based on the types of services guests will be using throughout their trip versus the previous system of charging for the amount of time they will be online. For example, guests who are only interested in using Wi-Fi to post to their social networks can purchase a basic package for a lower fee.

This change gives guests the freedom they prefer for unlimited use of the specific internet services and applications they are interested in without the worry of time constraints – an important offering for a good number of guests who are looking to stay connected, especially as the industry works to increase interest in and demand for cruising across all demographics, especially among younger guests.

Specific package offerings and pricing structures vary by brand, but in all cases the company is working to create more value and a better overall connectivity experience.

System Enhancements Focus on the Guest Experience - Carnival Cruise Line, the company's largest brand with 24 ships and its 25th ship, Carnival Vista, coming in spring of 2016, announced in August it has enhanced internet access including new social media packages. The packages are now available on 19 of its 24 ships with plans for fleet-wide implementation by the first quarter of 2016. In June, the company's AIDA Cruises brand announced new flat-rate social media and internet packages, along with bandwidth upgrades that have been installed on seven ships, and will be fully deployed on each of the brand's 10 ships by November 2015.

Added Rasoulian: "We know that each of our guests is looking for something different when they cruise, whether that is being completely or partially unplugged from the internet or staying plugged in. For those who want to stay connected with their life back home or research the next destination on their trip, we are offering faster, more reliable and more affordable options to give our guests what they are looking for."

The improved onboard connectivity experience will also help crew members across Carnival Corporation's 10 brands keep in touch with their family and friends at home during the extended amounts of time they spend at sea. This is an important component of each crew member's quality of life and has a positive impact on helping them maintain their passion for consistently providing exceptional service for guests during the voyage.

Royal Caribbean Announces Change to Safety, Environment and Health Team
Royal Caribbean today announced that Gary Bald, Senior Vice President, Safety, Security, Environment, Medical/Public Health and Situation Management for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., will transition his duties to top corporate and federal security executive Jennifer Love as he prepares for his retirement in the Spring of 2016. Love will join Royal Caribbean on September 28, 2015.

Love spent nearly 25 years at the Federal Bureau of InvestigationBald has been with Royal Caribbean since 2006, overseeing environmental practices and stewardship as well as the safety, security and health of the company's 62,000 employees, more than five million guests annually, its fleet of 43 cruise ships and its shoreside facilities and terminals.

"Gary has been a key figure in the development of Royal Caribbean's approach to safety, environment and health, and an important leader who has made significant contributions to the entire cruise industry," said Adam Goldstein, President and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Gary's leadership has enhanced the safety and security of our guests, crew and employees. We are privileged to have had Gary at Royal Caribbean"

Goldstein added: "We are very excited to have Jennifer Love join our team. I am confident Jennifer's skills and expertise will build on our momentum and take our company to even greater advances in our preparedness, procedures and systems."

Love spent nearly 25 years at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where she gained broad experience and received numerous honors and awards for her exemplary leadership in both national security and criminal financial law enforcement. Most recently, Love headed the enterprise-wide security programs and process for the Cablevision Systems Corporation and served as the company's chief liaison to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

"I am delighted to join Royal Caribbean, a company renowned for innovation and continuous improvement," Love said. "I look forward to working with the talented team to take Royal Caribbean to the next level."

Among Love's honors are the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive Service in 2010, and the National Association for Advancement of Colored People, Community Leader Award in 2009.

Celebrity Cruises Selects New Media Agency
Water Cooler Group is proud to announce that two of its divisions have been selected to work with modern luxury global vacation brand Celebrity Cruises, pending successful contract negotiations. Media Storm LLC, the second largest independent media agency in the U.S., will manage media buying and planning, while JubaPlus will deliver and execute advanced data analytics and media mix modeling.

Celebrity Cruises Selects New Agency"As Celebrity Cruises continues to grow globally, we are focused on innovative, business-oriented solutions that will deliver an increased return and profitability, and that's why we are so excited to work with Media Storm," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "By offering in-depth analytics and measurement of all of our media activity, Media Storm will help to ensure that our investments are maximized, by offering the precision we need to reach the modern luxury traveler who seeks the experience only Celebrity Cruises can provide."

Media Storm and JubaPlus will work on comprehensive hyper-local and national campaigns focusing on analytics and media mix modeling; media buying and planning; and digital marketing. "Celebrity Cruises offers an unmatched travel experience," said Craig Woerz, co-founder and Managing Partner at Water Cooler Group. "We are thrilled to be a part of the team and look forward to helping to drive demand with strategically focused, data-fueled, innovative media campaigns," he added.

The partnership, pending finalization of the contract, commences in September of 2015.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 48.64 - 7.67%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 87.34 - 10.14%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.39 + 3.91
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 57.49 - 7.75%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
From March 7 to March 21, 1940, New York city played host to a unique gathering of three of the largest liners ever to sail the oceans. Name these three ships.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What item on any American or European ship runs from forward to aft on portside and runs aft to forward on starboard?

Answer - The name of the ship printed on the bow runs fore to aft on the port side and aft to fore on the starboard side of the ship.
courtesy of Larry P. Macdonald, Belmont, MA USA


Cruise News - September 21, 2015

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports Strong Third Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc announced non-GAAP net income of $1.4 billion, or $1.75 diluted EPS for the third quarter of 2015 compared to non-GAAP net income for the third quarter of 2014 of $1.2 billion, or $1.58 diluted EPS. For the third quarter of 2015, U.S. GAAP net income, which included unrealized losses on fuel derivatives of $137 million, was $1.2 billion, or $1.56 diluted EPS down slightly from the prior year. For the third quarter of 2014, U.S. GAAP net income, which included net unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $15 million, was $1.2 billion, or $1.60 diluted EPS. Revenues for the third quarter of 2015 were $4.9 billion, in line with the prior year.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports Strong Third Quarter EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "Our third quarter non-GAAP performance was the strongest of any quarter on record with earnings $0.17 per share higher than the prior year despite a slight drag from the net impact of fuel prices and currency. Non-GAAP earnings for the quarter were also $0.17 higher than the mid-point of prior guidance. Net revenue yields improved 5 percent (constant currency) from the prior year benefiting from strong demand which led to higher occupancy levels, increased ticket prices and increased onboard spending. Clearly our ongoing investments in the guest experience, combined with our global marketing and public relations efforts along with our initiatives to leverage our scale are having a positive impact."

Key metrics for the third quarter 2015 compared to the prior year were as follows:

• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 4.3 percent for 3Q 2015, better than June guidance of up 2 to 3 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 2.1 percent in current dollars.

• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 1.0 percent in constant dollars, better than June guidance of up 2 to 3 percent due to the timing of certain expenses. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 9 percent.

• Fuel prices declined 33 percent to $439 per metric ton for 3Q 2015 from $650 per metric ton in 3Q 2014 and were less than June guidance of $492 per metric ton.

• Fuel consumption per ALBD decreased 2 percent in 3Q 2015 compared to the prior year.

Other highlights during the third quarter included Princess Cruises' announcement that the Golden Princess will begin sailing out of Tianjin, China on a seasonal basis starting in 2016, which totals six Carnival Corporation vessels based in China, the largest capacity commitment from any cruise company. Additionally, it was announced in July that two vessels in the four-ship newbuild contract with Meyer Werft shipyard will be earmarked for Costa Cruises and will be the largest ships ever built based on guest capacity. Like the two previously announced AIDA Cruises ships that will also be constructed by Meyer Werft, the Costa ships will be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas, the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel. Last week, Carnival Corporation announced its new sustainability goals, which include a further reduction in CO2 emissions of 25 percent by 2020 from Carnival's 2005 baseline, along with a fleetwide reduction in shipboard waste generation and improved water usage.

Outlook - Based on the strength in third quarter net revenue yields and current booking trends, Carnival said that it has increased its expectations for full year 2015 net revenue yields. Carnival said that it now expects revenue yields to be up approximately 4 percent compared to the prior year versus previous guidance of up 3 to 4 percent on a constant currency basis, which excludes translational and transactional currency impacts (up approximately 3 percent on a constant dollar basis). Carnival said that it continues to expect full year 2015 net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD to be up approximately 3.5 percent compared to the prior year on a constant currency basis (up approximately 3 percent on a constant dollar basis).

Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it has increased its full year 2015 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share guidance to be in the range of $2.56 to $2.60, better than both the June guidance range of $2.35 to $2.50 and 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.93 per share.

Donald stated, "In 2015, we are on track to achieve a nearly 35 percent earnings improvement and we are accelerating progress toward achieving double digit return on invested capital in the next three to four years. Our improved performance has driven even stronger operating cash, which is expected to exceed $4 billion this year. We remain committed to further enhancing shareholder returns as demonstrated by our recent 20 percent increase in quarterly dividends."

During the last quarter, fleetwide booking volumes for the first half of 2016 were running nearly 20 percent higher than the prior year relative to a capacity increase of less than 3 percent, at lower constant dollar prices. At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the first half of 2016 are well ahead of last year at lower constant dollar prices.

Donald added, "Looking forward to 2016, we have driven a significant lengthening of the booking curve and have less inventory remaining for the first half of 2016 than at this time last year, which bodes well for continued year-over-year revenue yield improvement. Although we already have a solid base of business for next year, we are working hard to maintain the momentum through our ongoing initiatives to create additional demand."

Fourth Quarter 2015 Outlook - Fourth quarter constant currency net revenue yields are expected to be up approximately 3 percent compared to the prior year (up approximately 1 percent in constant dollars). Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the fourth quarter are expected to be higher by approximately 3 percent on a constant currency basis compared to the prior year (up approximately 2 percent in constant dollars).

Royal Caribbean Announces Anthem of the Seas Entertainment Options
When Anthem of the Seas arrives into the New York harbor in just 50 days it will bring with it a familiar cast of DreamWorks Animation characters. Po of "Kung Fu Panda;" Shrek, Fiona and Puss In Boots of "Shrek;" and Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien and the Penguins from "Madagascar " will be joining Anthem of the Seas when she begins sailing from her homeport of Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ.

Royal Caribbean Announces Anthem of the Seas Entertainment OptionsGuests on Anthem can enjoy events and activities based on DreamWorks Animation's popular feature-film characters, including a DreamWorks Character breakfast in the main dining room, ‘meet and greet’ experiences throughout the day as well as photo ops that can be shared with family and friends back home thanks to VOOM, the fastest internet at sea. Royal Caribbean's younger guests can enjoy an exhilarating line-up of activities, games and adventures rooted in the popular DreamWorks Animation films at the complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program. Additionally, guests can watch the latest DreamWorks Animation films at the ship’s movie theater or on a dedicated DreamWorks TV channel in their stateroom.

"Anthem of the Seas already offers an unprecedented line-up of entertainment activities on board for our guests," said Mark Tamis, senior vice president, hotel operations, Royal Caribbean International. “With the addition of the DreamWorks Experience guests of all ages will be even more wowed with everything Anthem has to offer.”

In addition to The DreamWorks Experience, guests onboard Anthem of the Seas can enjoy an endless landscape of entertainment. In Two70, a multi-level great room that seamlessly fuses entertainment and technology, guests will be surprised and awestruck by the immersive experiences created by the talented singers and dancers of Royal Caribbean Productions who meld music and special effects with Vistarama – the most complex seamless video projections on floor to ceiling windows spanning across 270 degrees at the aft of the ship.

Two70 also hosts a troupe of six, choreographed Roboscreens which soar, twist and spin solo or together as one to treat guests to stunningly visual, first-of-its-kind multi-media shows that can only be seen on Anthem of the Seas. In addition, the Royal Theater is home to Royal Caribbean’s two headlining shows, the smash hit musical “We Will Rock You” and an original production created exclusively for Anthem, “The Gift.”

Celebrity Adds Fee for Late Night Room Service
Celebrity Adds Fee for Late Night Room ServiceCelebrity Cruises recently introduced a service fee for late night room service. Previously, room service was complimentary 24-hours per day although there were extra charges for certain items not on the basic menu.

From the Celebrity website: "Celebrity offers 24-hour in-stateroom dining. The service is complimentary, except when ordered between 11 PM and 6 AM when there is a $4.95 fee per room service order. For Suite guests, it's complimentary 24 hours a day."

Celebrity joins a list of other cruise lines that have begun adding a service fee for something that had previously been complimentary. In April Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it was going to start charging a service fee of $7.95 charge for all in-stateroom dining except for continental breakfast.

Carnival, City Of Mobile Announce Year-Long Season Of Beginning In 2016
Carnival Cruise Line and the City of Mobile announced today that the Carnival Fantasy will operate a year-long schedule of four- and five-day cruises to Mexico from the Mobile Cruise Terminal beginning in fall 2016.

Carnival, City Of Mobile Announce Year-Long Season Of Beginning In 2016Prior to its deployment to Mobile, the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy will undergo a multi-million-dollar refurbishment that will add several elements of the cruise line's popular Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement program, including Guy's Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, two poolside watering holes, the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, and the BlueIguana Cantina Mexican-themed eatery.

On its new schedule from Mobile, Carnival Fantasy will offer four-day cruises to Cozumel and five-day cruises to Cozumel and Costa Maya or Progreso from November 2016 to November 2017.

"Carnival Fantasy's four- and five-day cruises from Mobile provide consumers with an affordable way to visit stunning Mexican ports from a convenient homeport while offering our valued travel agent partners an exciting new short vacation option to market to their clients," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "We've been working very closely with the port and city officials to make these cruises a reality and wish to thank Mayor Stimpson and his team for not only all their hard work but also for creating a welcoming and positive environment that makes these cruises an attractive option for today's consumers," she said.

"We are pleased and excited to welcome Carnival Cruise Line back to Mobile," said Mayor Sandy Stimpson. "This agreement has been a priority since the day we took office. It represents a win for our City, a win for Carnival and most of all a win for the thousands of consumers who can once again enjoy a great cruise out of one of America's greatest cities. We are building something special in Mobile, and this renewed partnership is evidence of that momentum."

Year-Long Schedule of Four- and Five-Day Cruises from Mobile Carnival Fantasy's Mobile-based program kicks off Nov. 9, 2016 and will run through Nov. 27, 2017.

On this route, Carnival Fantasy departs the Mobile Cruise Terminal Thursdays on four-day "long weekend" cruises to Cozumel and on Mondays and Saturdays on five-day voyages to Costa Maya or Progreso. Each of these destinations are popular for their beautiful white sand beaches, interesting historical sites and attractions, and excellent snorkeling, scuba diving and water sports. During the day-long call in Progreso, guests have the opportunity to visit Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and while in Cozumel guests can visit ancient Mayan ruins or enjoy the destination's wide range of shopping and dining experiences. At Costa Maya guests can explore the centuries-old Chacchoben ruins or visit the Lost Mayan Kingdom, a multi-million-dollar water-themed attraction currently under construction that will feature spectacular slides, an elaborate lazy river, a suspended ropes course that spans the property and more.

Carnival Fantasy will undergo a multi-million-dollar refurbishment in early 2016 that will add a number of terrific onboard options. These include Guy's Burger Joint, a complimentary poolside dining venue serving handcrafted burgers and fries created by the poplar chef and restaurateur, all enjoyed amidst lively interiors that celebrate Fieri's California roots and love of car culture.

Located adjacent to Guy's Burger Joint is the BlueIguana Cantina offering authentic handmade burritos and tacos along with an elaborate toppings and salsa bar. Also located poolside is the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Rum Bar offering the region's top rums and beers as well as the BlueIguana Tequila Bar with margaritas, Mexican beers and other frosty libations.

Carnival Fantasy also features a 12,000-square-foot spa, a WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 300-foot-long slide and a kiddie splash area, and a Serenity adults-only retreat, as well as fun, supervised programs for kids ages 2-17, full casino gambling and a wide array of dining options, including a 24-hour pizzeria.

The Queen and Cunard
While the exact moment Princess Elizabeth became Queen in February 1952 is not known, at some point today, 9 September 2015, Her Majesty The Queen will become the longest reigning British Monarch in history surpassing the record held by Queen Victoria who reigned from 1837 to 1901.

This is an achievement to be acknowledged and celebrated and tonight a Commemorative Dinner on each of Cunard’s three ships will pay tribute to The Queen as well as recall the remarkable association she has had with the company – a relationship that dates back to 1934!

HRH Princess Elizabeth looks on as the Shipyard Director urges Queen Elizabeth to name the ship (the hull of Queen Elizabeth had started to move early!)During her reign The Queen has launched or named 23 ships - four of them Cunarders! And two of them for P&O!

It is a fact that The Queen’s association with Cunard dates back to 26 September 1934 when she was part of the royal party attending the launch of Queen Mary by Her Majesty Queen Mary.

Just four years later Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret returned to the Clyde when they watched their mother launch the biggest ship in the world – Queen Elizabeth.

Before she became Queen in 1952, the Princess, on her last public engagement before her wedding, was back at Clydebank on 20 October 1947 to launch Cunard’s Caronia. She was greeted by 40,000 wellwishers that day.

The second Queen Elizabeth, perhaps better known as QE2 and also built at Clydebank, was launched by The Queen on 20 September 1967. In doing so Her Majesty revealed the biggest secret of the day – the actual name of the new liner. The Queen had her first view of the ship as she flew overhead prior to landing at Glasgow Airport. At precisely 1428 hours on a sunny afternoon, in front of 30,000 Clydesiders, Her Majesty stepped forward on the launching platform and said: ‘I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second. May God bless her and all who sail in her.’

She cut the ribbon using the same gold scissors that her mother had used to launch Queen Elizabeth in 1938 and her grandmother to launch Queen Mary in 1934. This released the bottle of wine that smashed onto the side of the newly named liner. She pressed the button that electrically released the launching trigger.

Then nothing happened. For 70 seconds it seemed as if the ship did not move. The Queen looked amazed; the smile slowly faded from Prince Philip’s face. Workmen high up on her deck leaned over and shouted ‘Give us a shove!’ Shipyard director George Parker joined in the spirit of the request and bowler-hatted, he sprang to the bows and pushed. He jubilantly waved his bowler when, by a coincidence, she began to move. A little over two minutes after the Queen had named her, the new Elizabeth had slid smoothly into the Clyde. Newspapers the next day claimed the Queen had wept as the new ship entered the Clyde, and that Prince Philip took a white handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her. The Queen exclaimed ‘Oh, look at her, she’s beautiful.’

Aircraft from the 736 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm flew over the ship in an anchor formation as an aerial salute as six tugs manoeuvred her inch by inch into the fitting-out basin. The Queen and the royal party and guests then went to tea in the works canteen. There The Queen was the presented with a small speedboat for the Royal Yacht Britannia – built on the same berth as QE2. A delighted Queen thanked the shipyard chairman Lord Aberconway and suggested it may be appropriate to call it John Brown and have it painted in Cunard colours, to which Prince Philip retorted: ‘Why not call it Cunard and paint it brown?’

Almost two years later The Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip, visited QE2 on 1 May 1969 in Southampton on the eve of the ship’s Maiden Voyage.

Apart from the odd occasion when The Queen would view QE2 from the Royal Yacht Britannia she did not visit the Cunard flagship again until 27 July 1990 – the day of a Royal Review as part of Cunard 150th Anniversary Celebrations. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh reviewed three Cunard ships (QE2, Vistafjord and Atlantic Conveyor) and Royal Navy ships at Spithead prior to transferring from Britannia to QE2 by Royal Barge and continued up Southampton Water while enjoying lunch on QE2. It was the first time a reigning Monarch had sailed on a commercial ship with other passengers.

37 years after launching QE2, Her Majesty travelled to Southampton on 8 January 2004 to name Queen Mary 2 – the largest, longest, tallest, widest and grandest ocean liner ever built. That ceremony is still regarded as the most spectacular of its kind ever.

A sad farewell occurred on 2 June 2008, the anniversary of her Coronation, when The Queen paid a farewell visit to QE2 in Southampton and enjoyed lunch on board. She unveiled a specially-commissioned portrait, ‘Coming Home’, depicting QE2’s forthcoming final Southampton arrival which was presented to Southampton by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh during his farewell visit on 11 November 2008 – the last day QE2 spent in the UK.

It wasn’t long before a new Queen Elizabeth would join the Cunard fleet and Cunard was honoured that Her Majesty agreed to name her which she did on 11 October 2010 in Southampton.

The Queen could claim to be the only person to have been present at all three Queen Elizabeth christening ceremonies.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 52.68 + 2.53%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.2 + 0.51%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.30 + 1.77
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 62.32 + 1.50%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What item on any American or European ship runs from forward to aft on portside and runs aft to forward on starboard?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the two sister ships, built in the 1950's, that reportedly had deck space in their "dummy" funnels set aside for topless sunbathing.

Answer - The Moore-McCormack Lines Argentina and Brazil were the two ships built with nude sunbathing in their dummy funnels.
courtesy of Bruno Elgin, Brussels, Belgium


Cruise News - September 14, 2015

Keel Laid For Seabourn Encore
Today, small ship cruise line Seabourn celebrated the keel laying ceremony of its new ultra-luxury ship, Seabourn Encore, at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy. Set to launch in late 2016, today's ceremony is the latest in a series of recent milestones and announcements made by Seabourn as the project continues to move forward.

Various executives from Fincantieri and Seabourn celebrated the keel laying ceremony in Marghera, ItalyThe ceremony was attended, among others, by Holland America Group Executive Vice President Fleet Operations Keith Taylor and Antonio Quintano, director of Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard. Seabourn Encore is the first of two ultra-luxury cruise ships that Fincantieri will build for Seabourn over the next three years.

"Set to debut as the most modern and acclaimed ship in the ultra-luxury segment, the keel laying of Seabourn Encore represents another pivotal stage in the evolution of small-ship cruising," said Seabourn President Richard Meadows. "This is an important milestone and we look forward to revealing further progress and highlights of Seabourn Encore in the months ahead."

Modeled after the award-winning trio of Seabourn's Odyssey-class ships and designed by leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, the all-suite 41,700-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck, new expanded public areas and is expected to carry just 600 guests, maintaining Seabourn' s high ratio of space per guest. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Cunard Appoints Interior Design Firm for Queen Mary 2 Refit
Cunard has appointed SMC Design to lead the development of Queen Mary 2's interior spaces in preparation for her forthcoming major refit in 2016. The Cunard flagship will undergo a multi-million 25-day (27 May – 21 June) extensive refurbishment that will see new interior designs and new guest experiences introduced on the most iconic ship in the world as she begins the next chapter in what has already been an illustrious career.

Cunard Appoints Interior Design Firm for Queen Mary 2 RefitThis announcement follows on from the recent well-received news that Queen Mary 2 will gain 15 new single cabins and an additional 30 Britannia Club cabins during the refit and that the very popular kennels will be expanded to cater for the high demand this unique facility already attracts. Today's announcement about the appointment of SMC Design will be the first of several unveilings the company has planned underlining the importance of the work to be undertaken on Queen Mary 2. SMC Design was founded in 1994 and is a London-based design consultancy that specializes in the maritime sector.

The design team has worked on many ships from small luxury yachts to some of the largest ships ever built. The company also has a history of working with Cunard ships past and present, leading previous refit projects of QE2, Cunard Countess and Cunard Princess while also being involved in the designs for its current fleet: Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. SMC's Managing Director Andy Collier was in fact part of Queen Mary 2's launch design team at the beginning of the Century when she was the first Atlantic liner to be built for over 35 years.

The new Queen Mary 2 designs will focus on updating iconic art deco lines and subtly introducing classic Deco touches inspired by Cunard's rich heritage. The original Art Deco masterpiece Queen Mary has been one of the sources of this inspiration with the new interior designs bringing Cunard's decorative and glamorous past into the 21st Century.

The new designs aim to give the interior spaces clear identity and character with some strong traditional Cunard colours introduced as features and off-set against more neutral Queen Mary 2 tones. With new signature colour schemes, new carpets, new furniture as well as more decorative fixtures and fittings installed throughout the largest ocean liner in the world, the design approach is set to ensure the flagship retains her leading position.

"Cunard has a unique rich heritage in both the nautical and design fields and we have researched into these and looked to incorporate aspects of pattern and design into our plans," said Andrew Collier, SMC Managing Director. "Particular attention has been paid to taking inspiration from the original Queen Mary and our aim is to enhance existing designs as well as implement a decorative overhaul, looking to emphasize the feeling of understated elegance. Clean lines and simple designs will instill a sense of glamour and relaxation. We are very excited to be part of the project to bring a new look and style for the world's most famous ship," Collier added.

And it's not just design experts who are helping to shape the future of Queen Mary 2. Over the last eighteen months Cunard has been consulting and testing different ideas with thousands of past and future guests across the world. These ongoing consultations are an important element of the work being undertaken in preparation for refit and the valuable opinions from the people who know Cunard and Queen Mary 2 better than anyone is actively being incorporated into the exciting and extensive development plans that will be revealed over the coming months.

"Queen Mary 2 is the pride of the Cunard fleet. With SMC's proven maritime design expertise, invaluable input from thousands of Cunard's discerning, international guests, and 175 years of history as our foundation, we look forward to even more exciting design innovations on the already legendary Queen Mary 2," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America.

Carnival Corporation Announces 2020 Sustainability Goals
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced its 2020 sustainability goals, reinforcing its commitment to the environment, guests, employees and communities.

With 10 global brands, 100 ships and 11 million annual guests, the company has established 10 major goals for reducing its environmental footprint over the next five years, while enhancing the health, safety and security of its guests and crewmembers, and ensuring sustainable business practices across its brands, business partners and suppliers. View Carnival Corporation's full 2020 sustainability goals infographic here.

Carnival Corporation Announces 2020 Sustainability Goals"Across our 10 brands, we host millions of guests a year and visit 725 ports of call around the world, and the health and vitality of the oceans, seas and communities through which we travel is absolutely essential to our business," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "That makes protecting the environment one of our most critical areas of focus as a corporation, and it is why it is important for us to publicly communicate our sustainability goals."

Added Donald: "All of our 120,000 employees not only take great pride in making sure our guests have the vacation of a lifetime, but we are all deeply committed to protecting the oceans and seas, which is where many of our employees live and work for a good part of the year. We have a strong track record of environmental stewardship, and we remain more committed than ever to improving our performance, while ensuring we operate our entire business in the most sustainable way possible."

Carnival Corporation announced in November 2014 that it had met its corporate goal to reduce its rate of equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2e) emissions from shipboard operations by 20 percent – a year ahead of its initial plan. Below is a summary of the company's 2020 sustainability goals.

Environmental Goals

Reduce intensity of carbon dioxide emissions from operations - After meeting its initial goal a year ahead of schedule, Carnival Corporation has renewed its goal to continue reducing the rate of CO2e emissions – also known as greenhouse gas emissions - by 25 percent from its 2005 baseline. This renewed goal for 2020 extends and reinforces the company's aggressive initiative to further reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the effort, the company and its 10 global brands have developed strategic energy reduction and conservation initiatives, many of which exceed current laws and regulations.

One such initiative is the company's recent announcement that its four next-generation cruise ships for Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises will be the first in the industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), one of the world's cleanest burning fossil fuels. Pioneering a new era in the use of low carbon fuels, these new ships will use LNG to generate 100 percent of the ship's power both in port and on the open sea – an innovation that will significantly reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support overall sustainability initiatives. Additionally, when AIDAprima launches in 2016, it will be the first cruise ship in the world that has a dual-fuel engine for an energy supply with LNG while in port, along with a connection to shoreside power and an extensive filter system for the treatment of exhaust.

Install exhaust gas cleaning systems - As part of the company's commitment to improving the quality of its air emissions from its shipboard operations, it has made a $400 million investment to develop, deploy and operate exhaust gas cleaning systems that reduce sulfur compounds and particular matter from the ships' engine exhaust. As announced in September 2013, Carnival Corporation pioneered an industry-first effort to adapt a proven land-based exhaust gas cleaning technology to use on its ships. Carnival Corporation's system combines two established technologies that have been successfully used in land-based applications such as power plants and factories to clean – or "scrub" – engine exhaust. For the first time, this system is being developed to accommodate restricted spaces on existing ships.

Continue to reduce waste generated by shipboard operations - Carnival Corporation will continue to reduce waste generated by its shipboard operations by 5 percent by 2020 relative to its 2010 baseline, as measured by kilograms of non-recycled waste per person per day.

Every Carnival Corporation ship has a waste management plan that specifies how it manages each type of waste onboard. This includes incorporating various strategies to reduce the generation of waste. In addition, as part of its sustainability initiatives, Carnival Corporation works with its supply chain partners to reduce packaging and with its ports of call to support recycling practices.

Continue to increase water use efficiency - Carnival Corporation will continue to improve water use efficiency on its ships by 5 percent by 2020 relative to its 2010 baseline, as measured by liters per person per day.

Water is essential to Carnival Corporation's business, so water management – and increasing the rate of water efficiency on every ship -- is a major priority. Carnival Corporation uses shipboard systems to produce approximately 73 percent of the water it uses onboard. The remaining 27 percent is supplied from the ports and from water companies in the ports where the company's ships call. This percentage varies from ship to ship, depending on itineraries.

Carnival Corporation encourages its guests to be aware of their own impact on the environment. The company educates its guests by providing, for example, environmental awareness information to passengers in a range of media, including pamphlets, videos and posters. Guests also participate in water efficiency initiatives by reusing towels and minimizing use whenever possible.

Increase coverage of Advanced Wastewater Purification Systems - An additional sustainability goal is to increase the percentage of the company's capacity with Advanced Waste Water Purification Systems (AWWPS) by 10 percentage points by 2020 compared to its 2014 baseline. The company follows rigorous protocols to properly remove and dispose of wastewater to further protect the environment. New ships are more efficiently designed and include the latest technologies. As part of the company's sustainability effort, all new ships are equipped with AWWPS.

Increase cold ironing capacity - Carnival Corporation's goal is to increase the number of its ships with cold ironing capability – which allows ships to connect to a port's electrical grid as the in-port power source. While only six ports in the world currently have the infrastructure to allow cruise ships to do so, being able to connect to shore power reduces air emissions, a benefit to improving air quality while ships are in port.

Each of the company's 18 new ships entering service between 2015 and 2022 will be more efficient and sustainable than existing ships in the fleet and will include onboard Advanced Waste Water Purification Systems, exhaust gas cleaning technology and cold ironing capabilities.

Health, Safety and Security Goals -Protect health, safety and security of guests, crew and all others working on behalf of company Striving to be free of injuries, Carnival Corporation continues to build on its commitment to protect the health, safety and security of its guests and crew. The company is identifying improvement areas within and across brands to implement occupational health and safety best practices, standards and processes.

Continue to build a sustainable diverse workforce The company continues to build a diverse and inclusive workforce. Its goal is to provide all employees with a positive work environment and opportunities to build a rewarding career to further drive employee engagement.

Continue to develop sustainable supply chain and vendor code of conduct compliance - Carnival Corporation continues to develop and implement vendor assurance procedures ensuring compliance with the company's Business Partner Code of Conduct and Ethics. This includes the areas of labor and human rights, environmental protection, business integrity and health, safety and security.

Continue to work on and support initiatives with local and global communities - The company is working on initiatives and partnerships that support and sponsor a broad range of organizations for the benefit of local and global communities.

In June 2014 the Carnival Foundation donated $2.5 million over a five-year period to The Nature Conservancy, one of the world's leading conservation organizations, to advance the preservation of the world's oceans and seas. Carnival Corporation's support to The Nature Conservancy will significantly accelerate the coral reefs restoration initiatives, enhance the value of marine ecosystem services through the Mapping Ocean Wealth program and continue to advance important science that shows how natural systems can help reduce risks to coastal communities from storms and rising sea levels.

In June 2015, the company launched Fathom, the company's 10th brand, creating a new travel category called social impact travel. Fathom is a different kind of cruise that combines the love of travel with a desire to make a difference. The new brand seeks to develop lasting social impact partnerships that allow for meaningful enrichment of the traveler, while providing systematic, long-term educational, environmental and economic development benefits in its partner countries – starting with the Dominican Republic in April 2016 and Cuba in May 2016 pending Cuban approval. Because Fathom will regularly transport hundreds of travelers to its partner countries, the support will be significant and sustainable – allowing Fathom travelers to make long-lasting contributions.

Norwegian Escape To Offer Lacoste and Carolina Herrera Boutiques
When Norwegian Escape makes her maiden voyage in November, the ship will feature unprecedented dining, beverage and entertainment options-- and now, luxurious shopping with two dazzling name-brand boutiques.

Norwegian Escape To Offer Lacoste and Carolina Herrera BoutiquesThe two boutiques - LACOSTE and Carolina Herrera - will be the first at sea for each acclaimed brand, as well as the first boutiques to be designed specifically for a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. These new offerings are the latest of several that are shaping Norwegian Escape into one of the most sensational cruise ships at sea, with other alliances including Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville; James Beard Award-winning Iron Chef Jose Garces; Michael Mondavi Family Wines; Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals After Midnight and Million Dollar Quartet; and more.

"These exclusive boutiques from two legendary fashion industry icons add further glamour to one of the most exciting cruise ships ever built," said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and chief operating officer. "LACOSTE and Carolina Herrera will offer Norwegian Escape guests a shopping experience unlike any at sea."

More than 80 years after its founding, LACOSTE continues to be a sport inspired lifestyle brand renowned for elegance and comfort. Famous for its iconic polo shirt, LACOSTE offers sportswear apparel for men and women, as well as footwear, eyewear, watches, fragrances, leather goods, and other items. The LACOSTE boutique aboard Norwegian Escape will include a wide assortment of clothing items, including signature polos, t-shirts, dresses, skirts, footwear, and accessories.

Carolina Herrera is an international fashion house recognized for timeless elegance and refinement. From fashion and accessories to fragrances, the brand embodies the creative vision established by founder, Carolina Herrera, over three decades ago. The Carolina Herrera boutique aboard Norwegian Escape will include beautiful, hand-selected luxury products, including handbags, leather goods, pashminas, scarves, jewelry, footwear and accessories.

In addition to dedicated boutiques, Norwegian Escape will feature further retail from widely-recognized brands including, but not limited to, Hublot, Bvlgari, Tissot and Uno de 50. The ship will be the first to introduce Ulysse Nardin watches, as well as a hand-picked collection of Columbian Emeralds, also exclusive to Norwegian Escape.

Norwegian Escape, soon to be the largest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, will sail weekly seven-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on November 14, 2015. The 164,600 gross ton ship will be the largest ever to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Princess Cruises Presents Kindle Love Stories
The romance of the high seas has been the backdrop for some of the most famous love stories.

Now, Princess Cruises has teamed up with Amazon's online romance community Kindle Love Stories to offer guests three free, original stories to enjoy during their cruise vacations and special sailings with bestselling romance authors. The short love stories, written by well-known authors Carolyn Brown, Heather Burch and Barbara Longley, were inspired by their own Princess cruise experiences sailing to the beautiful Caribbean.

Princess Cruises Presents Kindle Love Stories Brown, Burch and Longley, along with New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Linda Lael Miller, will be sailing aboard a five-day Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard Regal Princess, departing Ft. Lauderdale November 3, 2015. Onboard the authors will participate in meet-and-greets, book club discussions and also offer book signings. Rates start at $549 per person.

Princess guests and Kindle users, including those using a Kindle app on any device, can easily download the free stories at www.amazon.com/allamour, beginning in October.

"We strive to provide engaging experiences for our guests and we know they love to read, especially while on vacation, so teaming up with Kindle Love Stories is a perfect match," said Adrian Fischer, Princess Cruises vice president, entertainment experience. "As part of our newly relaunched Princess Book Club, avid readers will be able to participate in exciting onboard events and enjoy great stories inspired by a Princess cruise."

The three romance stories inspired by Princess Cruises include:

• Kiss Me Maybe by Heather Burch

• To Catch a Bouquet by Carolyn Brown

• Once Upon a Night at Sea by Barbara Longley

Heather Burch writes full-time and lives in Florida. Her books have garnered praise from USA Today, Booklist magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and Publishers Weekly. Her epic love story, One Lavender Ribbon, was an international bestseller and was one of the top 100 books on Amazon Kindle in 2014. Down the Hidden Path is the follow-up novel to Along the Broken Road, the first book in The Roads to River Rock series. Heather's heartbeat is to tell unforgettable stories that make your heart sigh. http://www.heatherburchbooks.com

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and a RITA finalist. Her books include contemporary romance and cowboy romance, with a penchant for country music, and historical romance. She and her husband have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. When she's not writing, she likes to sit in her gorgeous backyard with her cats and watch them protect the yard from crickets, locusts, and spiders. She resides in Davis, Oklahoma. http://www.carolynbrownbooks.com

Barbara Longley is an award winning, Amazon bestselling author. Each of her four siblings were born in different states, and because her family moved so frequently, she learned early on how to entertain herself with stories. By day, Barbara is a teacher. She holds a Master's in Education, and has taught for many years. By night, she likes to explore things mythical, metaphysical, paranormal, and/or newsworthy. Much of what she learns makes its way into her stories, where all things are possible. http://www.barbaralongley.com

The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, the "First Lady of the West" and self-confessed barn goddess lives on a horse property outside Spokane, where her rescued horses roam free. For her long-standing success and devotion to her craft, the Romance Writers of America awarded Linda their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Hallmark Movie Channel is developing a series based on Linda's Big Sky Country novels published by HQN Books. Her latest release is Christmas in Mustang Creek, an October 2015 HQN holiday hardcover and the fourth in her Brides of Bliss County series set in a fictional Wyoming town. www.lindalaelmiller.com.

"This adventure with Princess Cruises has been so exciting. The inspiration for a love story set on a cruise was amazing because romance was everywhere. The stories just needed to be told and were such fun to tell," said author Carolyn Brown.

"We created Kindle Love Stories as a place for romance readers to engage with their favorite books and authors and we're so excited to be collaborating with Princess Cruises to bring that experience in-person with these events," said Laura Hoffman, Marketing Manager, Kindle Love Stories.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 51.38 + 1.38%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 96.71 + 5.65%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.26 - 0.44
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 61.40 + 4.35%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the two sister ships, built in the 1950's, that reportedly had deck space in their "dummy" funnels set aside for topless sunbathing.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which cruise ship was the first ship to be so large that she could not fit through the Panama Canal?

Answer - The Carnival Destiny was the first cruise ship too large to fit through the Panama Canal. (Note: NCL's Norway was also too large to fit through the Panama Canal but she started life as an ocean liner).
courtesy of Robert Brenner, Charlottesville, Va.


Cruise News - September 7, 2015

Engine Room Fire Strands Carnival Liberty in St. Thomas
The Carnival Liberty continues to remain in St. Thomas following an engine fire that occurred on Monday, September 7th, while the ship was docked there during a scheduled port of call visit.

Carnival LibertyCarnival announced that all guests will now be flown home from St. Thomas. Given the limited availability of commercial flights, guests will primarily be transported via chartered aircraft.

According to the cruise line, all guests are being provided with a full refund of their cruise as well as a 50 percent discount on a future cruise. This is in addition to a $150 per person credit that has already been applied to guests’ shipboard accounts.

There were no injuries to guests or crew as a result of the fire which was extinguished by the ship’s automated suppression system. All hotel services including air conditioning, elevators, toilets, galleys, etc. are fully functional and the ship’s normal array of activities, entertainment, dining options and programming are being offered.

The ship is expected to return to its homeport of San Juan, Puerto Rico later this week.

Crystal Cruises Unveils Culinary Concept For 'Crystal Esprit'
Crystal Yacht Cruises, the upcoming luxury yachting experience from Crystal Cruises, is sparing no measure of luxury, including the culinary offerings on the new vessel. Crystal has unveiled the culinary concept for the 62-guest Crystal Esprit, which focuses heavily on quality local ingredients of the Seychelles Islands and Mediterranean coast, and showcases many of the favorite dishes served on the line's acclaimed ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. The yacht will set sail in December 2015 with an elegant and eclectic menu of globally inspired Michelin starred cuisine for its discerning guests, from extraordinary seafood cuisine on the al fresco terrace, to decadent pastries, snacks, espresso and wine in the quaint corner bar.

The Yacht Club, Crystal Esprit"The outstanding food and wine experience has always been a highlight of the Crystal Experience and will continue to be an integral part of the onboard experience aboard Crystal Yacht Cruises," says Crystal President & CEO Edie Rodriguez. "With public spaces and dining areas that are more intimate, our superior culinary team will maintain – and even exceed – the standard of world-class, creative cuisine that travelers expect from Crystal."

Crystal Esprit will offer guests an array of culinary choices at any time of day or night, from small bites and midnight snacks, to casual lunches al fresco and chic, multi-course dinners. "Local" versions of favorite Crystal dishes will also be served, using the freshest ingredients available in each destination and reflecting the local flavors. The onboard eateries include:

• The Yacht Club and its outdoor extension, the Patio Cafe restaurants will serve a selection of Crystal's modern and classic specialties, with made-to-order omelets, waffles and pancakes and a health bar with fresh fruit and vegetable juices for breakfast; lunch options including made-to-order pastas and risottos, seafood and meat antipasti, and a raw and salad bar, plus an a la carte menu offering local dishes; dinner menus include a Modern Tasting menu and a Classic menu including local inspired dishes using the freshest ingredients found at the local markets, all served in a bright and immaculate setting with expansive windows and sea breezes;

• The Sunset Bar & Grill menu will feature burgers, wraps and locally inspired "global street food," served tapas style and reflecting the destinations visited;

• The Pantry will serve as the 24-hour "go-to" spot for freshly baked light snacks and pastries, coffee and a self-service wine bar;

• Crystal Esprit Guest Suites also allow travelers to indulge in the plush privacy of their own staterooms, with available 24-hour stateroom dining.

Port of San Diego Announces Start of 2015-2016 Cruise Season
The Port of San Diego's cruise season kicks off on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 with the arrival of Celebrity Cruises' Infinity. The 2,170-passenger vessel will stop at San Diego harbor as part of a nine-night Pacific coastal cruise that begins and ends in San Francisco. The cruise also visits Monterey, Santa Barbara, Catalina and Ensenada.

Port of San Diego Announces Start of 2015-2016 Cruise SeasonOctober is a busy cruise month with the Disney Wonder arriving in port on Thursday, Oct. 1, for a three-night Baja cruise. The vessel returns for three five-day Baja cruises that begin and end at the Port of San Diego.

Other highlights in October include a 15-day Mexican Riviera Cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines' Norwegian Sun, and an 18-day Inca Discovery Cruise on Holland America Lines' Zaandam.

The Port's cruise season runs from September through May. Currently 65 vessels are scheduled to arrive, that number may change as the season progresses.

The Port's homeported (cruises that begin and end in San Diego) lines are Disney Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises. On average, each homeported cruise has an economic impact of $2 million to the region. That impact is from passenger spending, businesses servicing the vessel, transportation services, crew spending and more.

Last year, the Port completed a $31 million project that completely redesigned the North Embarcadero area, adjacent to where the cruise ships berth. Improvements encompassed an area from the Midway Pier to the B Street Cruise Ship Terminal. Widened esplanades, public seating areas, jacaranda groves and public art now greet cruise guests as they embark or disembark, creating a grand first impression of San Diego for cruise visitors. Another addition will be a new restaurant. Hungry passengers will be able to enjoy "Tail Waggin' Good!" delights at the new Carnitas' Snack Shack location at the North Embarcadero. Carnitas' is expected to open in January/February 2016.

The Port of San Diego cruise schedule is available on portofsandiego.org

Carnival To Offer Wide Variety Of Bermuda Cruises In 2016
With its famous pink-sand beaches, turquoise waters and picture-perfect weather, Bermuda is one of the most popular destinations in cruising. And Carnival Cruise Line will provide its guests with a variety of opportunities to visit the island paradise in 2016 with 10 departures that feature at least one overnight docked alongside at historic King's Wharf.

Carnival To Offer Wide Variety Of Bermuda Cruises In 2016From April through November 2016, guests can embark on five different Carnival ships departing from six convenient U.S. homeports offering itineraries ranging from five to eight days — making 2016 one of the cruise line's most robust Bermuda programs ever.

Carnival's 2016 Bermuda schedule includes:

• Carnival Pride: five-day cruises from Baltimore departing April 10 and Oct. 26 as well as seven-day voyages departing Sept. 4 and 18.

• Carnival Victory: an eight-day sailing from Port Canaveral departing May 19.

• Carnival Ecstasy: seven-day cruises from Charleston departing May 12 and Nov. 5.

• Carnival Splendor: nine-day cruise from Miami departing May 26

• Carnival Sunshine: a seven-day cruise from New York departing Oct. 1 and a five-day sailing from Norfolk departing Oct. 23.

Five-day itineraries feature an overnight call at Bermuda; seven-day cruises spend two nights docked at King's Wharf; and the eight-day voyage features three nights on the island.

"By offering Bermuda cruises from a variety of convenient drive-to homeports, we're providing guests even more opportunities to experience and explore this incredible island paradise," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "The island has tremendous tourist appeal and the wide range of cruises offer consumers maximum choice when planning their Bermuda vacation while providing travel agents with a sought-after destination to market to their clients," she added.

While Bermuda might be best known for its unique pink sand beaches, pastel architecture and famous shorts, it's also an island with an abundance of activities that enable guests to become immersed in its tropical ambiance and laid-back lifestyle. From world-class golf courses and beautiful beaches to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and underwater explorations by glass-bottom boat, snorkel or scuba, the longer calls make it possible to participate in a variety of activities throughout the day and into the evening. With overnight visits, guests are also able to experience the island's local nightlife and dine ashore if they choose.

Financial Highlights
The Board of Directors of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today declared a $0.075 increase in the quarterly cash dividend to $0.375 per common share payable on October 6, 2015, to shareholders of record at the close of business on September 18, 2015. This move, which was approved unanimously at the board's September 3rd meeting reflects the company's continuing efforts to increase shareholder returns.

Royal Caribbean declares dividendOn July 16, 2015, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.30 (U.S.) per share. The dividend is payable on September 11, 2015, to shareholders of record on August 21, 2015.

Holders of Carnival Corporation common stock or Carnival plc ADSs will receive a dividend payable in U.S. dollars. The dividend for Carnival plc ordinary shares will be payable in sterling unless shareholders elected to receive the dividend in U.S. dollars by August 21, 2015.

Dividends payable in sterling will be converted from U.S. dollars at the exchange rate quoted by the Bank of England in London at 12 noon on September 1, 2015 (US$1 = 65.13385 pence). Accordingly, the dividend payable in sterling on September 11, 2015, will be 19.54016 pence per share.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.68 + 2.95%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 91.54 + 3.83%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.27 - 6.20
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 58.84 + 2.15%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship was the first ship to be so large that she could not fit through the Panama Canal?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which cruise ship starred along side Richard Harris, Anthony Hopkins and Omar Sharif as the fictional Britannic in the 1974 movie Juggernaut?

Answer - The ship which starred as the Britannic in Juggernaut was the TS Maxim Gorkiy. Before the ship entered service for the Black Sea Shipping Company, she was chartered to portray the fictional SS Britannic on the 1974 movie
courtesy of Fernando M., Spain.


Cruise News - August 31, 2015

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

Cunard Announces its 2017 Exotic Cruises & Full World Voyages Program
Today Cunard released its 2017 Exotic Cruises & Full World Voyages program, inviting travellers to embrace exciting new frontiers in magnificent Cunard style. The program will offer three World and Exotic Cruises (with options ranging from three to 132 nights) and will feature 80 unique ports in 42 countries and 15 ship maiden calls – five of which are new to the fleet.

"Since Cunard inaugurated the first world cruise in 1922, our company has carried more guests and made more trips around the world than any other cruise line," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. "This year, Cunard's Full World Voyage program brings unique experiences to our guests, whether it be an in-depth exploration of Asia or a trip up the Amazon river, there is an itinerary for both returning world cruisers and for those new to Cunard who wish to revel in Cunard's legendary grand luxury."

Cunard Announces its 2017 Exotic Cruises & Full World Voyages ProgramThe 2017 program will also be the first Full World Voyage Queen Mary 2 undertakes following an extensive 25-day dry dock refurbishment at the Blohm+Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. Cunard guests will enjoy new designs and experiences that reflect the changing needs of today's passengers, including 15 Single Staterooms, 30 additional Britannia Club Balcony Staterooms, an expansion to the ship's dedicated kennels, and a host of additional innovations to be announced in the coming months.

In addition to a new look, Cunard's flagship, Queen Mary 2, will also offer for the first time ever a 132-night round trip New York voyage as part of its 2017 Full World Voyage program. In its entirety, Queen Mary 2 will travel over 37,000 nautical miles and feature 40 ports in 23 countries, 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, nine maiden calls, three overnight stays, and 11 late evening departures.

This East-West voyage, departing New York on January 3, 2017, will travel to Southampton, then on to South Africa, before revealing Australia's dramatic scenery during an extensive route that will feature 14 calls, including two stops in Sydney and two in Melbourne. Queen Mary 2 will then operate round trip Hong Kong and Shanghai sailings before embarking towards the ancient lands across Arabia and Europe, sailing via the Suez Canal, and heading back to Southampton and New York. Overnight stays will include Cape Town, Singapore and Dubai.

Maiden calls will include: Le Port, Réunion; Kangaroo Island, Australia; Hobart, Australia; Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei; Keelung, Taiwan; Jeju Island, South Korea; Busan, South Korea; and two firsts for the fleet – Busselton and Port Arthur, Australia.

This voyage will also offer travellers the opportunity to enjoy late evening departures in: Port Elizabeth, South Africa; Melbourne, Australia; Sydney, Australia; Hong Kong, China; Keelung, Taiwan; Jeju Island, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Safaga, Egypt; and Aqaba, Jordan.

Queen Victoria's South America and Australia bound 120-night Full World Voyage will travel more than 41,000 nautical miles and will feature 32 different ports in 17 countries, 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, two maiden calls, three overnight stays and four late evening departures.

Queen Victoria will visit South America, venturing through the Strait of Magellan and deep into Chilean fjords, and continuing on the Amazon River. This five-night exploration will not only be a first for the current Cunard fleet, but will also break the record for the largest cruise ship ever to transit the Amazon. Other firsts for the brand will be Queen Victoria's maiden calls to Manaus and Santarem in Brazil.

Following South America, Queen Victoria will cross the South Pacific Ocean, sailing past Easter Island and Pitcairn Island before visiting Polynesia en route to New Zealand and Australia. Guests cruising on Queen Victoria's return journey will transit through the Panama Canal up to Aruba, Florida, Bermuda and then back to the UK.

Other highlights of this voyage include overnight stays in Fort Lauderdale, USA; Sydney, Australia; and San Francisco, USA; as well as late evening departures in Manaus, Rio de Janeiro, Auckland and Charleston.

Queen Elizabeth will offer guests the chance to experience the classic world voyage: a 120-night westbound circumnavigation of the globe featuring a transit of the Panama Canal. This voyage will deliver some of the world's most iconic cityscapes, including breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Sydney Opera House as seen from the water. Queen Elizabeth will sail over 39,000 nautical miles, visiting 39 different ports in 25 different countries, 29 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, four overnight stays, 9 late evening departures, and four maiden calls.

Guests travelling on Queen Elizabeth will have the opportunity to choose among New York, Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco as a US departure, and will also have the choice of adding on a Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing for a return to New York.

Queen Elizabeth's maiden calls will feature: Huatulco, Mexico; Port Victoria, Seychelles; St. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands; and Alotau, Papua New Guinea – a first for the fleet.

Additional highlights of this Full World Voyage include scenic cruising through the Kanmon Straits and Inland Sea of Japan, and overnight stays in New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Cape Town. Late night departures are scheduled for Honolulu, USA; Auckland, New Zealand; Busan, South Korea; Hiroshima, Japan; Kobe, Japan; Shanghai, China; Port Victoria, Seychelles; Port Louis, Mauritius; and Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Carnival To Offer Wide Variety Of Bermuda Cruises In 2016
With its famous pink-sand beaches, turquoise waters and picture-perfect weather, Bermuda is one of the most popular destinations in cruising. And Carnival Cruise Line will provide its guests with a variety of opportunities to visit the island paradise in 2016 with 10 departures that feature at least one overnight docked alongside at historic King's Wharf.

Carnival To Offer Wide Variety Of Bermuda Cruises In 2016From April through November 2016, guests can embark on five different Carnival ships departing from six convenient U.S. homeports offering itineraries ranging from five to eight days — making 2016 one of the cruise line's most robust Bermuda programs ever.

Carnival's 2016 Bermuda schedule includes:

• Carnival Pride: five-day cruises from Baltimore departing April 10 and Oct. 26 as well as seven-day voyages departing Sept. 4 and 18.

• Carnival Victory: an eight-day sailing from Port Canaveral departing May 19.

• Carnival Ecstasy: seven-day cruises from Charleston departing May 12 and Nov. 5.

• Carnival Splendor: nine-day cruise from Miami departing May 26

• Carnival Sunshine: a seven-day cruise from New York departing Oct. 1 and a five-day sailing from Norfolk departing Oct. 23.

Five-day itineraries feature an overnight call at Bermuda; seven-day cruises spend two nights docked at King's Wharf; and the eight-day voyage features three nights on the island.

"By offering Bermuda cruises from a variety of convenient drive-to homeports, we're providing guests even more opportunities to experience and explore this incredible island paradise," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "The island has tremendous tourist appeal and the wide range of cruises offer consumers maximum choice when planning their Bermuda vacation while providing travel agents with a sought-after destination to market to their clients," she added.

While Bermuda might be best known for its unique pink sand beaches, pastel architecture and famous shorts, it's also an island with an abundance of activities that enable guests to become immersed in its tropical ambiance and laid-back lifestyle. From world-class golf courses and beautiful beaches to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and underwater explorations by glass-bottom boat, snorkel or scuba, the longer calls make it possible to participate in a variety of activities throughout the day and into the evening. With overnight visits, guests are also able to experience the island's local nightlife and dine ashore if they choose.

MSC Launches China Service
CAISSA Touristic Group, China's leading outbound tourism service provider, and Geneva, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, announced today that they have entered into a strategic partnership. As part of the agreement, from May 2016, MSC Lirica will homeport in Shanghai to serve the Chinese home market.

MSC Launches China ServiceThe strategic cooperation agreement between the two companies will be the longest-running and financially most significant between a cruise line and a tour operator in the history of cruising in China.

In a statement, CAISSA Touristic’s President Chen Xiaobing emphasized the popularity of MSC Cruises’ European and South American routes with travellers from around the world and that it had recently been named number one cruise line in Europe. Mr Chen Xiaobing added: “MSC Cruises’ distinctive European flavour resonates well with Caissa Touristic’s brand spirit, as it also originates from Europe. This partnership standouts from other traditional agreements between China-based tour agencies and cruise lines by the emphasis that will be placed on the training of the entire on-board staff to ensure that guests receive MSC Cruises’ best-in-class experience and service as well as the degree of the adaptation of the ship’s hardware and software (like facilities renovation, service design and operation, on-board commodities and more) to fit the customs and tastes of the Chinese guests that it is designed to serve.”

“We are convinced that the newly-renovated MSC Lirica will bring exciting new holiday-making choices to Chinese guests and are looking forward to welcoming numerous would-be cruisers aboard, at a time when the cruise market in the country for this particular type of product is thriving,” concluded Mr Chen Xiaobing.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ Chief Executive Officer, commented: “MSC Cruises has been present in China since 2010, successfully bringing Chinese guests to cruise on its ultra-modern fleet to its many global destinations and, especially, to Europe and the Mediterranean, where our distinctive product made us the number one cruise line across the entire Continent. We are now delighted and excited that through this partnership we are taking our presence in China to the next level. Thus, with CAISSA Touristic we will partner to bring our unique MSC Cruises’ experience directly to Chinese consumers.”

Mr Onorato continued: “The soon-to-be completely renovated MSC Lirica, as part of MSC Cruises’ ground-breaking Renaissance programme, will feature many distinctive traits – including some industry firsts in service - especially designed for the cruising enjoyment of Chinese consumers. This will make it a much sought-after choice for cruises in the region.”

MSC Lirica is scheduled to reach her new homeport of Shanghai on 1 May 2016, after a 60-day grand voyage from Rio de Janeiro via Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa and Dubai. While maintaining its Mediterranean atmosphere and service, the 65,000GRT, 2,600-passenger MSC Lirica will enjoy an industry-high percentage of native Mandarin speaking guest-facing crew and provide guests with all services in Mandarin. It will also offer popular as well as high-end Chinese cuisine as well as more traditional and popular entertainments.

More in-depth details about how MSC Lirica’s product and services are uniquely tailored to serve the needs of Chinese consumers – including several industry firsts - will be announced at a press conference to be convened in Beijing in the coming weeks.

Legend of the Seas Returns to Singapore
Royal Caribbean International’s Legend of the Seas, a long-time favourite among cruisers in Asia where she homeported between 2008 and 2013, has returned to Singapore today to begin her new season. The ship has just completed a 10-night cruise from Hong Kong.

Legend of the Seas Returns to SingaporeLegend of the Seas will be offering a series of attractive itineraries for the Singapore season till this November ranging from 3 to 14 nights, to as many as 19 ports-of-call in 10 countries and territories, namely Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia. The sailings include:
• 3-night cruise to Penang and Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang)
• 5-night cruise to Bangkok (Laem Chabang) and Ko Samui
• 10-night cruise to Ko Samui, Bangkok (Laem Chabang) (overnight), Sihanoukville, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My) (new itinerary)
• 10-night one-way cruise to Ko Samui, Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Sihanoukville, Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Nha Trang, Hue/Danang and Hong Kong (new itinerary)
• 10-night one-way cruise from Hong Kong to Taipei (Keelung), Manila, Boracay, Puerto Princesa, Kota Kinabalu, Bandar Seri Begawan (Muara) and Singapore (new itinerary)
• 14-night one-way cruise to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Langkawi, Phuket, Bali (Benoa), Lombok, Broome, Geraldton and Perth. (new itinerary)

The 11-deck, 2,074-guest Legend of the Seas hails from the Vision Class, which features Royal Caribbean’s signature rock climbing wall, miniature golf course, fitness centre, spa and the Solarium indoor pool. Entertainment options include Centrum WOW, an aerial show in the five-storey high Centrum, the theatre and outdoor movie screen. As for the younger guests, they will be entertained by the Adventure Ocean activities for multiple age groups. Toddlers and infants of six to 36 months will also be well cared for by trained professionals at the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery.

The F&B options are the complimentary Main Dining Room, Windjammer Café and Park Café, as well as specialty restaurants namely Izumi Asian Cuisine, Chop’s Grille Steakhouse and Chef’s Table. Guests can also relax at Viking Crown Lounge on the ship’s top deck and the ‘60s inspired R Bar which features a savvy mixologist and signature cocktails.

Legend of the Seas will depart for Australia in November for her Brisbane season.

Carnival On Track For Record Year From Port Of New Orleans
Carnival Cruise Line – New Orleans' number one cruise operator – continues to expand its presence at the port and expects to carry a record 400,000 passengers from the Crescent City this year. Additionally, the cruise line estimates that next year it will welcome its three millionth passenger at the Port of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

Carnival On Track For Record Year From Port Of New OrleansCarnival pioneered year-round cruising from New Orleans in 1994 and over the past two-plus decades has become the port's largest cruise operator with two ships offering more than 125 four- to seven-day departures on an annual basis.

Following Hurricane Katrina, the cruise line resumed service in New Orleans in October 2006 – just 14 months after the storm – with one year-round ship, Carnival Fantasy, carrying less than 16,000 passengers that year. The company gradually increased its capacity from the Big Easy deploying newer and larger ships and next year expects to carry a record 450,000 passengers from New Orleans.

Currently, Carnival's two New Orleans-based ships include the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, offering seven-day Caribbean cruises, and the 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation sailing four- and five-day cruises to Mexico. Carnival will increase capacity on short cruises from New Orleans by 34 percent when the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph replaces Carnival Elation next spring.

Carnival and other cruise operators have a significant impact on the Louisiana economy, accounting for more than 8,000 jobs and in excess of $400 million in direct purchases each year, according to a study commissioned by the Cruise Lines International Association. Additionally, data collected by the Port of New Orleans indicates that cruise guests on average spend two nights pre- or post-cruise to enjoy the city's many outstanding restaurants, shops and attractions.

"Carnival has a long and deep history with the city of New Orleans," said Carlos Torres de Navarra, Carnival's vice president of commercial port operations. "We not only enjoy a very successful New Orleans-based cruise program but strive to be valuable community partners providing strong economic impact and supporting a variety of philanthropic initiatives." He added, "We look forward to continuing to grow our operations in New Orleans in partnership with this great city as it thrives and expands in the post-Katrina era."

Commented Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange, "Carnival Cruise Line is a valuable partner not only to the Port, but to the City of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. Cruising has grown 180 percent since 2001, the year the Port began in earnest marketing itself as a premier cruise destination and we could not have realized such growth without Carnival's investment in New Orleans."

Royal Caribbean Taps New SVP and CIO
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today that Michael Giresi has been named senior vice president and chief information officer. Giresi joins Royal Caribbean with more than 20 years of experience in implementing technology initiatives for leading brands including Tory Burch, LLC, Direct Brands, Inc., Godiva Chocolatier and The Estee Lauder Companies Inc. Giresi will report directly to Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today that Michael Giresi has been named senior vice president and chief information officer"Michael's background and experience implementing leading edge technology, combined with the skills of our seasoned management team, will be vital as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. continues to innovate and accelerate its global expansion," said Goldstein. "His broad experience and proven leadership will provide the company with the necessary tools to marry technology solutions that will continue to differentiate us."

Giresi most recently served as senior vice president and CIO for Tory Burch, where he was responsible for the implementation of new infrastructure and technology initiatives for one of the fastest growing fashion brands in the world. Prior to that, Giresi was executive vice president and CIO at Direct Brands, Inc. Throughout his career, he has held various management positions, including CIO for Godiva Chocolatier and director of information technology for the Campbell Soup Company.

"I am looking forward for the opportunity to join Royal Caribbean, a company that stands for excellence in the travel industry," said Giresi. "Working with the IT team, we will create the infrastructure necessary to move the company to the next level."

Giresi graduated from Saint Joseph's University's Erivan K. Haub School of Business with a MBA, and from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in English.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.23 + 5.92%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 88.16 + 4.96%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.42 + 4.76
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 57.60 + 4.86%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship starred along side Richard Harris, Anthony Hopkins and Omar Sharif as the fictional Britannic in the 1974 movie Juggernaut?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When the France of 1962 was built for the French Line she cost $80 million. How much did Norwegian Cruise Line pay for the classic liner when they acquired her in 1979?

Answer - NCL bought the France for 18M USD in 1979.
courtesy of Jonas Ekstam, Stockholm

VACATION & CRUISE SPECIALS
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Carnival - 4-Day Bahamas  from $229 per person
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NCL - Bermuda - 7 Day from $499 per person
Description: What a charming little chain of islands. Walk on pink sand beaches. Swim and snorkel in turquoise seas. Take in the historical sights. They're stoically British and very quaint. Or explore the coral reefs. You can get to them by boat or propelled by fins. You pick. Freestyle Cruising doesn't tell you where to go or what to do. Sure, you can plan ahead, or decide once onboard. After all, it's your vacation. There are no deadlines or must do's.
Holland America - Eastern Caribbean from From $599 per person
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Description: Sail between Vancouver and Seward, departing Sundays on the ms Statendam or ms Volendam and enjoy towering mountains, actively calving glaciers and pristine wildlife habitat. Glacier Bay and College Fjord offer two completely different glacier-viewing experiences.
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